If you’re familiar with the stages of grief, then you know that grieving is a process. A person can get ‘stuck’ in a stage or move two steps forward and one step back. Therefore, grief is a personal issue and the feelings involved with grieving can vary in length. In other words, grief lasts as long as it lasts.
For those who are stuck in any stage of the grieving process, counseling with a professional who understands grief can help you push through to the next level. This inability to move forward can be caused by many factors, including age, maturity, a person’s personality and coping style, physical and mental health, spiritual and religious background and support, family dynamics and other stressors and life experiences. For instance, you may think you’re prepared for your 96-year-old grandfather’s death, but if you’re going through a divorce, moving, have recently lost a job or if you’re involved in some other stressful situation, that death may hit you like a ton of bricks. Compound losses often are more difficult to handle.
If a loss is important, the grief reactions will be stronger. Experts suggest that a person who experiences a significant loss should try to limit the number of life changes during that time. Rational thought may be impaired by grief, and losses that occur with rash decisions can compound grieving. When you feel that you can make rational decisions, then your grieving may be subsiding.
People who seek help during the grieving process, whether it comes from professional counselors, group therapy or support groups, often report that their grieving process becomes less painful and more meaningful with that support. Each stage of the grieving process then becomes a personal experience that can be experienced fully with others. Plus, with support, often that support person or group can help you recognize when you’ve reached acceptance of a loss.
Sometimes a person does not want to let go of grief for fear that a loss of hurt might mean that the loss will be forgotten. Grief, however, never truly ends, especially if that hurt was deep. A person may feel that he or she is through with grieving, and then a song, a scene from a movie or a ‘deja vu’ event will trigger a bittersweet sadness. But, with each recurrence of that grief, the pain will lessen. Finally, with acceptance of a real or percieved loss, the grief will subside until it doesn’t interfere with everyday living.