The short answer is “No.” Grief is a part of life. Change is an inevitable part of life. With change comes loss and with loss comes grief.
Whether the loss is of a loved one, getting laid off, having a miscarriage, losing your home to a fire or natural disaster or anything else, grieving is hard.
The Five Stages of Grief
Many people know the five stages of grief, but I will review them now. Kubler-Ross has addressed the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Most people start the grieving process with denial. They don’t want to admit what has just happened or are still in shock about the loss of their loved one. Once the person admits that their loved one is gone, they get angry. Then they try to bargain with God — “If I become a better person, will you bring back my loved one?” Once the person realizes that the person is truly gone and nothing will change this, they get really sad and depressed. Then eventually they learn to accept that their loved one is gone for good.
The Grieving Process is Not Linear
The grieving process is not linear. When a person is grieving they may bounce around from stage to stage, going from denial to anger to bargaining and back to denial. Some people get stuck in the stage of anger or depression. Some people have such a hard time letting go that they remain angry or depressed because as long as they stay stuck in their emotions, they don’t have to let go and letting go is extremely difficult. Getting to acceptance takes time and not everyone gets there.
Letting Go is Hard
I have had to let go of pets, my future mother-in-law, my grandmother, numerous jobs, many friends, a miscarriage, and romantic partners. Letting go is one of the very hardest and most painful things to have to go through. Heartache is difficult, but it is possible to let go and get past losses in life.
Disenfranchised grief is a term first used by Ken Doka about twenty years ago. He defines disenfranchised grief as, “Grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned”. Disenfranchised grief is hard because society does not always acknowledge these things as losses. These are losses that are not obvious
like being childless and having to grieve the loss of the fantasy of having a child. Some other examples of disenfranchised grief are loss of lifestyle (getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol), grieving someone who is dealing with a severe mental illness, grief following an abortion, and death of an ex-spouse or ex-partner.
What Losses Have You Endured?
What losses have you experienced in your life? What stage of grief are you currently at? If you are stuck in one stage such as anger or depression, what is keeping you stuck? Please feel free to share pictures of your losses. I would love to see them!