Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Grieving Cycle
By Pat Meehan
Grieving is a natural process that helps us to work through the impact felt by a loss. We grieve at the death of a spouse, child, friend, relative, or a pet. Grieving comes with a loss, a death, a divorce, a bankruptcy, an illness, and the loss of a job.
In 1963 the nation mourned the loss of a young president, John F. Kennedy. An entire country and most of the world experienced the grieving cycle as a result of this tragic event.
When we lose a job due to a downsizing it is a painful experience. The grieving cycle allows us to work through the pain and into new positive visions of the future. These new visions are called hope. Although the grieving cycle is a built in defense mechanism to help us through hard times, it is very important to fully understand how it works. Without this understanding we can get trapped in the grieving process. Relax now, as we move through the four stages of grieving.
Stage One: Denial
Denial is a built in pain reliever or tranquilizer that comes to us very quickly following a trauma. It is a form of temporary amnesia that allows us to be numb or temporarily pain free from the trauma or shock we have experienced. After a loss a person will go into the denial stage. Let’s use the example of a lost job and look at the frame of mind of a person in denial. Here are some symptoms of denial.
- Refusal to even talk about the loss
- Will not admit to feelings of sorrow
- May abuse alcohol or drugs
- Will not relate other problems as being related to the loss
- Will sometimes show a happy-go-lucky attitude
Stage Two: Resistance
When a person moves through the grieving cycle naturally, reality sets in and the person becomes consciously aware that there is a problem and pushes away from it in a variety of ways. When a person moves from denial to resistance here are some of the symptoms.
- Blaming others, self, God, or their environment
- Irritability, rigid personality, nausea, headaches, etc.
- Tenseness, anxiety, depression
- Embarrassment, shame, guilt, isolation.
Stage Three: Exploration
A person who moves through the grief cycle in a healthy way will eventually come to grips with the feelings experienced in resistance and move to exploration. In exploration a person is starting to turn the corner of the grieving cycle and will show the following signs.
- Agreeable to sit with another person to discuss the loss
- Willingness to get outside help
- Learning to take one step at a time to move in a positive direction
- Accepts the reality of the loss and shows willingness to let go of control
- Starts to wonder out of the defense mechanism mode / starts to trust others
- Willingness to follow direction to be self-starting
Stage Four: Closure
In the final stage of the grieving cycle the person has explored new ventures and opportunities and finds himself/herself seeing options and solution of which to choose a new way to continue living in a positive way. A person in closure will show the following signs.
- Readiness to move forward again
- Cheerfulness and energetic attitude
- Self reliance and self assuredness
- Decisiveness and good decision making ability
- Replacing the loss
Working through the grieving cycle it is not a lonely undertaking. It is quite the opposite. There are many resources that can help us improve our lives and our careers. These sources, just to name a few, are mentors, former co-workers or bosses, and network partners, support groups, and professionals in counseling.