Paula Kruger

Clinical Psychotherapist & Counsellor

Grief and Loss

5 Stages of Grief and Loss

Dealing with Grief

Grief, a natural reaction to losing someone very important to you, can be an overwhelming sensation. The gloomy realisation of the loss and the dawning of the heartbreaking reality.

You may feel a variety of emotions, with some main ones being sadness or loneliness. In combination with this, your family and friends may be in anguish as well.

There are a host of reasons we have these experiences of loss. For instance, maybe a loved one died, a relationship ended, or you lost your job. Other life changes may have happened, like chronic illness or a move to a new home can also lead to grief.

Everyone grieves differently. However, if you understand your emotions, take care of yourself, and seek support, you can heal over time.

Your feelings may happen in different phases as you come to terms with your loss. You can’t control the process, but it is helpful to know the reasons behind your feelings. 

The Stages of Grief

All people go through experiencing grief but do so differently. Though it is no longer considered the ideal way to think about grief, these stages of grief may relate to you:

Denial: When first learning of the loss, it is normal to think, “This isn’t happening” You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It is a defence mechanism.

Anger: As reality sets in, you are faced with confronting the truth. You may feel frustrated, helpless, and alone. These hurtful feelings later fuel anger. You might direct it towards others, your life situation, or even yourself. To be angry with the loved one who died and left you alone is normal as well.

Bargaining: During this stage, you can dwell on what could have been done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “if only….” and “What if…” You may try to pray, ask a higher power for a favour.

Depression: A low mood sets in as you begin to understand the loss and how it has affected you. You may cry, not eat, sleep longer, or shorter than usual. You may feel overwhelmed and full of regret.

Acceptance: In the final stage of grief, the reality of the loss is fully accepted. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you can start moving forward with your life.

Everyone goes through these phases in his or her way. You go back and forth between them or skip one or more stages

Complicated Grief

Not dealing with and processing the normal stages of grief can turn into complicated grief and can impact with an emotional downward spiral. This can lead to a deep depressive episode, possibly impact further a downhill spiral. Complicated grief will prolong your recovery, impact on your ability to function in your day to day life in a healthy way. 

Unresolved grief can detrimentally impact on your emotional state of mind, and cause problems in all areas of your life.

It is important during any extenuating life circumstances that you reach out for extra support – it is available! During working with individuals, groups or families, I will also establish other support networks, that you may not have considered, and help to nurture your you move through any grief one step at a time.

Be aware of your family members, that are dwelling on loss too, people find comfort in the discussion of the grief, and it’s important there is a support for your family. Saying that you must also look after your own health and wellbeing

Young people also may have the negative experiences that grief can bring, and it is important to contact when under duress, mental health services. Lifeline supports young and old in their grief.

Grief Counselling

I can help you explore your emotions, guide, and teach you coping skills to help you to process and move through the grief in a healthy way. 

I have been supporting people through normal and healthy stages of grief and loss spanning over two decades. It is important to understand that what you are experiencing is a normal part of the grief process. This can be a very difficult and painful time, and needing extra support from a professional is in no way a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is important for your feelings, thoughts, and even your physical experiences to be addressed, understood, and normalised. 

It is equally helpful that you do not experience the extra burden of unhelpful thinking, such as; thinking that you are failing at this time and telling yourself such things as, “I should be getting on with it – what is wrong with me?”, “I am letting those down that need me.”, “I am never going to feel better.”, “I should be over this.” 

It would be problematic at a time of grief to ignore your feelings, thoughts, and reactions. Developing your self-awareness and understanding around your experience will be reassuring to your self-esteem, mood, and overall wellbeing at this time.

We will experience profound grief during a loss. During counselling, I provide you with emotional and practical support through this difficult and painful time – gently moving you forward on your journey. 

131114 Lifeline – 24hr crisis counselling

Beyond Blue Hotline