December 14, 2012 a day our Nation will never forget. I sat in stunned silence when I heard the news. The excitement for my new work project completely gone and forgotten. I quit work and took my dog for a walk. My mind just couldn’t wrap around the thought of what happened. My husband and I were feeling two different sets of emotions, he was angry while I felt numb. When the numbness wore off my emotions began to change from anger, to sadness, to disbelief, to bargaining. These emotions went around and around. Immobilizing me to all activities. I was grieving.
Despite the fact I am more than two thousand miles away from Newcome, Connecticut and didn’t know a person there, I was grieving. Even though I am not grieving like the families that lost a loved one or the Newcome community, I still was going through the cycles of grief. Recognizing and acknowledging the emotional stages of grieving has helped me cope with the tragedy.
I know all of America is going through this grieving process. This is something we all need to recognize. We need to allow our self and others moments to express their feelings of grief.
I went back and reviewed my studies of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ cycle of grief and have included them here.
Denial Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It’s a defense mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.
Anger Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgmental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.
Bargaining Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve attempting to bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example “Can we still be friends?..” when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it’s a matter of life or death.
Depression Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it’s the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the ‘aftermath’ although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It’s a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It’s natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.
Acceptance Again this stage definitely varies according to the person’s situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.
(Based on the Grief Cycle model first published in On Death & Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, 1969. Interpretation by Alan Chapman 2006-2009.)
Even though I have listed them in order please understand that grief has a cycle effect. There is no order in which one grieves. Even though there is an end to grieving we never get over our loss.