Whenever we lose something important to us (a job, an object, someone we love) we experience grief.
In general this comes in five stages. First there is denial, then anger over what has happened. Then bargaining to try to get it back, depression when we realise we can’t. And eventually acceptance and moving on, getting on with our lives in the new world that has emerged.
Grief is not a rational thing so these stages don’t come in a nice neat order, they come in fits and starts. Denial, anger, denial, anger, denial, bargaining, anger, denial, and so on.
But the point is to realise that there is a process. We will come out the other side.
We can get through this process more quickly and more easily if we realise five things:
- There is a process, it will feel crazy at times, it won’t make sense, but it’s entirely normal and we will come out the other side.
- We can speed up the process if we accept it and move through it, experiencing it fully, not holding back. Experience the emotions. When you feel angry, feel the anger and let it out. (But don’t take it out on other people, because that would only trigger grief in them.) When you feel depressed, experience that fully, and then move out the other side. It is appropriate to grieve for something or someone important to you.
- Grief often brings adrenaline so taking physical exercise is a great way to work through that. So is spending time in nature or with friends.
- And then, remember that you are still the same person as you were before. You have the same values and the same purpose. All that has happened is that the world has turned out differently from how you expected. Nobody can predict the future.
- So use this time and this grieving process as a way to get clear on what it is that you have lost that was most important to you. Then, when you are ready, shift into the acceptance stage and start live your life more fully again. Rebuild the things you care most about into a new form. It might not be obvious right now what those things are or how to rebuild them. But that is the best, indeed the only way to take the reality of what has happened and use it to build the kind of future you want.