“The Grieving Process”
By: Vince DiPasquale
Welcome to the month of March, a time to experience the ebb and flow of life. When I look at the setting sun I realize how nature tries to teach us the rhythm of life. Each day the sun rises and sets. At times we don’t see it because it’s covered with clouds. The ocean reminds us of life. Sometimes it’s calm, sometimes stormy, at times angry and scary, and at times just a little rough. Because we are human we must realize that all these feelings are normal. If we are honest we experience all of our feelings at one time or another. Remember that no matter what happens, the sun will still rise the next day. My grandson years ago reminded me that on a cloudy day the sun still rises and sets. March is the month that we hope comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
These thoughts bring to mind a very special process we all go through every day in life, the grieving process. This is a very special cycle that we all go through each moment of our lives. Nothing stays the same. We are all in the process of changing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Let’s look at this five-stage process. It will show us how we must deal with the changes in life.
The first stage is DENIAL. When we are first confronted with the reality of life and change, we naturally become defensive and deny what is. Most of us have to fight and struggle with letting go of anything. Physically we all grow older each day but many times we try to deny it is happening. We usually have to battle until we have no choice.
That leads us to the second stage, ANGER. When we break denial, we experience the feeling of anger. Anger is probably one of the most important emotions on the face of the earth if it is processed in a healthy way. Many of us have been taught that we shouldn’t get angry. If you deny your anger it will turn into depression. It’s okay to be angry with someone and still love them. When someone close to us leaves us it hurts. We have to learn how to process our anger in a healthy way. Having a healthy support system of people that will listen to us is a way to process our feelings. Using anger constructively will help us to change in a positive way.
The third stage of grieving is called BARGAINING. So many times we try to figure out and ask why. Sometimes we actually think we can somehow make what is happening go away. Some of the ways we try to bargain with a situation means we are not quite ready to accept the reality of what is. We play the games of blaming, if only, and the “woulda-shoulda-coulda” games. I call this the analyze state. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to find an answer and to try to figure out how we can control the situation. One of the hardest things in life is to let go of control. The other game is fear of change or the unknown of moving on. e.g., when someone dies or decides to leave us. We often say “if only I had done this or that maybe the outcome would be different.” We sometimes feel guilty or sad. These are feelings that many of us don’t know how to deal with, yet they are normal.
The fourth stage is saddest or FACING CLOSURE. It’s almost as if we have to give a part of us permission to die so that something new can begin. It’s hard to say goodbye so that we can be open to where we are being led. Death is scary and yet a reality. We all die a little bit each day. Remember death is not just something physical. Yes, one day our bodies will come to an end but what’s more important is our spirit which needs to be in touch with the reality of life. Each day we get older our body changes. We have to learn to allow our bodies to grow old with respect and honor. Emotionally and spiritually we are experiencing changes each day. The secret is to allow yourself to feel sad. It’s a way to say goodbye so in time you can say hello. We all need to experience closure so that we can move on to a new dimension in life. Remember, be grateful for what was, grateful for what is, and be open and grateful for whatever will be. Feel the sadness of a loss but know that the excitement of something new is on the horizon.
That leads us to the fifth stage of grieving, ACCEPTANCE, the most powerful and spiritual word of life. Nothing new can be accomplished until we come to the serenity of acceptance of the reality of what is. We know when we come to acceptance because we will feel an inner peace. It means we have reached the moment of closure. We become open to learn from the past so that we can move to a new dimension of life. We are God’s creation. We have two great movies that teach us the secret of grieving; Dream Girls and the Pursuit of Happyness. Life is supposed to be a struggle. Don’t be afraid to live.
March is a time to understand this process. The lion is denial, the lamb is acceptance, the ebb and flow of life is the beautiful process of grieving. Remember that even on a cloudy, stormy day the sun still rises and sets. At the end of every storm there is a rainbow. And finally, we become grateful.