By: Vince DiPasquale
This month of April is a great example of one of the greatest ways which nature teaches us our need to grieve.
Remember, unless we allow ourselves to feel and experience the grieving process we will never reach the beautiful gift of acceptance. One of the hardest realities is to be able to come to the acceptance of the present. Once we are able to accept then we can move on to change and grow. So many of us fight the grieving process, yet in spite of us it will happen anyway.
The first stage of grieving is denial. Believe it or not denial can be both positive and negative. On the positive side it protects us until we are ready to face reality. Sometimes things are too painful and we’re just not ready. It can be destructive if we stay in it too long. Sometimes we just run from reality and try to be something we are not. For example, allowing ourselves to grow older when we would like to believe we can do things we can’t. It’s often referred to as the mid-life crisis or facing the fact that our bodies are changing.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Go with the flow.” In life many of us try to analyze or control the flow. Loss is part of life. Everything comes to an end so that something new can be born. It’s called the circle of life. One way to understand this is to watch the movie, “The Lion King”, which is a great example of the grieving process.
The second stage of grieving is anger. This is one emotion that gets a bad rap. Anger is a healthy feeling because it allows us to feel the pain of change. For example, when someone close to you dies, it’s all right to be angry at them for dying. They left you. Remember, you can love someone and still be angry with them. Anger is negative when you don’t have a healthy way to express it. We can’t grieve alone without support. If you deny or keep your anger in, it will turn to depression. Please don’t be afraid to feel your feelings, to be in touch with them, and release them in a positive way.
The third stage of grieving is the bargaining stage. This is the stage where we try to figure out and literally try to bargain with reality. We really think somehow we have the power to control what is happening. I have often said this is the stage where we get into trouble. Our intellect, or as I call it, the control tower, once again tries to find a solution. The real solution is acceptance but we’re not ready yet. For example, the addict thinks he can just control his drinking and drugging. Similarly, instead of dealing with the fact that we are getting older, we try to be twenty again. It doesn’t work and it creates a lot of pain, physical and emotional. However, because we are human we still give it the old college try. Surrendering to reality never comes easy.
The fourth stage of grieving is the stage of sadness. It’s a time to feel our loss and a chance to say goodbye. This is the most important stage because we are faced with reality. We have to be able to feel the sadness of letting go. We all need to be able to do closure on so many things in life. Unless we have closure we will never be able to move on. We can’t live in the past but we can learn from our history all the lessons we need for life. Please don’t be afraid to feel sad, it’s like watching a part of you die so that a new part can be born. It’s almost like giving permission for someone or thing to die. Death is a part of life and we suffer small deaths or endings every day. For example, I will never be twenty again. Letting go of that period of life will help me accept where I am today. Remember, you must say goodbye to say hello.
The fifth stage of grieving is the spiritual gift of acceptance and peace. The secret to life is being able to go through the struggle of change to finally come to that sense of peace. To be able to accept the reality of ourselves and others is the secret of a peaceful life. The gift of acceptance is the climax point of the grieving process. Every day of our lives we are faced with our need to face reality in a responsible way. There’s something special about the grieving process that allows us to be participants in the process of life. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself to feel the process of change. Acceptance and peace will come to you when you are open to change and growth. All of us are part of the circle of life. Accept your part in the process of life and you will grow as a spiritual person. Acceptance and reality are the secrets of life. Don’t be afraid of the showers. They will bring the flowers!