Stages of Grief

Hi, I'm Mary Helen, a licensed professional counselor with Lifeologie Midlothian, and wanted to just send a few tidbits about the topic of grief. While grief is much more complicated than a two-minute video, I found in session that some of the awareness of the stages of grief are helpful, as my clients process this. What's important to remember is that grief and the stages of grief are not linear. It's often complicated, and they don't go in order. But again, the acknowledgment and awareness of the stages are very, very helpful.

Kubler Ross created the stages of grief and they are helpful. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And again, what's so important to remember is that as these stages come up, we will be helped in our grieving to remember that there's nothing wrong with them, that, while it is uncomfortable, is very normal and typical. Say you have a passing of a loved one. You've experienced some type of trauma, an unwanted divorce, et cetera. You get the ideas of the examples. Knowing that you're going through a stage of grief helps. Being able to process through that stage. Denial can look like shock. Avoidance.

Anger looks like spouting off at a loved one, or physical examples like getting mad and hitting the steering wheel. Anger looks different for everybody. Bargaining are the "why mes". If you're a spiritual person, it could be an existential conversation with God about why did this happen and why is this happening to me?

Or maybe if you're not as spiritual like with the universe, why would something like this happen to me at this time in my life? Trying to figure out or rationalize the experience.

Depression. One definition of depression is anger turns inward. Depression feels heavy. It can look like isolation. Not showering for days at a time, eating too much, too little, it feels heavy. Tearfulness. Sadness.

Acceptance is the last stage of grief. The idea is that we don't just blow through these and get to acceptance and we're fine. The idea of understanding grief is to just continue to come back to a place of acceptance more and more. So if I'm grieving the loss of my grandfather and I'm driving down the road five years from his passing, and I hear a song we listened to together, and I find myself in tears and very sad and despondent, I might be able to recognize that that is the depressive part of grieving. And that while it wasn't okay that he passed away unexpectedly and that it did hurt me, acceptance is not saying that what happened was okay. Acceptance is that I have to find peace and meaning in this experience and continue to live.

And so I acknowledge the depression. I accept the depression and go through that and grieve that and then work my way back to acceptance. So again, grief is not linear. It's not on a timeline. It's complicated. The stages don't go in order, but as we are aware of them and utilize that awareness, that cognitive part of the emotional experience. We work to get to acceptance over and over and over.

Thank you.



About Mary Helen Snowden

Mary Helen Snowden, LPC, is the Clinical Director at Lifeologie Counseling Midlothian, Texas. She received a BA in Communication and Psychology from Dallas Baptist University and a MA in Counseling Psychology from Dallas Theological Seminary. She specializes in anxiety, depression, stress management, grief, trauma, PTSD, codependency, pregnancy, sexual and marital issues, and Christian and spiritual counseling. She helps people develop self-acceptance and heal from past wounds that may manifest in their current relationships. She sees individuals, couples and families at Lifeologie Counseling Midlothian.

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