No one is as hard as stone not to feel grief when someone near his heart dies. No matter how prepared everyone is (the doctor telling them there’s a year left for him), the death always brings in a tidal wave of sadness. In the 1969 book of On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, she discussed in details the five (5) stages of grief. Though each people are unique, and so are their way of dealing with love lost, we all fit at one time or another on one of the stages.
Some get stuck up with one stage and die not moving on to the next, while others do not pass through the first and instead jump on the second stage and on to the last. But the latter are so few and rare. Even some doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists at times find it hard to deal with loss when it’s them and not their patients are subjected to it. The five (5) stages of grief are as follows:
Denial – The reality just doesn’t seem to make sense at all so we refuse to accept it as a fact. We truly believe he’s going home by five in the afternoon as he always does. The cycle of making up excuses and finding reasons why he’s not anywhere goes on and on; this is the denial stage.
Anger – When reality sinks in, we feel angry at just about everything there is; the tv that doesn’t work, the weather that keeps on changing, the man across the street who’s staring at you, etc. This is a normal feeling and a way of coping up with death. Family and friends may find it difficult to care for you or to just even communicate with you. But everyone needs understanding at this point in time. It helps to just be objective about it and not take his anger personally. Know that it is his way of dealing with grief.
Bargaining – Don’t we always try to bargain when we know we’re about to lose? This is true not just in relationships (boy trying to be friends with the girl after he’s turned down) but in matters of life and death as well. When you know you’re dying you try bargaining with God for another year and serve a local church in exchange. For the bereaved, they bargain to give all their money and savings to have another week of their beloved.
Depression – This is when the certainty of death sinks in deep into the consciousness of the person. He finds it hopeless to struggle or deny, or just plainly tired of doing anything else when death seems to be near and inevitable. The usual reaction is locking up, crying, not wanting to see anyone else aside from family. When he’s in this stage, it is important not to hold him back and try urging him to go back to bargaining. This is a stage that needs to be processed and best be done alone.
Acceptance – People rarely find their way into acceptance stage. They go as far as depression but they usually end there where death catches up. When you find him writing thank you cards, or even making memorial cards, you’ll know he’s finally on this stage.
No matter which stage and what happens, the family needs to be exactly what a family should be, an avenue of love and support for each other’s needs.