By: Kelly Leon, AMFT
Grieving a Loss
Grief happens when there has been a significant loss. It often involves intense emotional reactions. These reactions change the way you experience yourself, the world, and feelings about the future. Individual responses to the loss depend on different factors, such as personality, life history, social context, cultural practices, and the magnitude of the loss. Grieving can be a slow and uneven process and is experienced uniquely by each individual, even though there are patterns of grief that have been helpful for those going through the process.
The Grieving Process
There are typically 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance (Bolden). Having an awareness of the stages of the grieving process will help you recognize the different stages of grief, so you can employ ways to cope. Everyone goes through the stages of grief at different times, in different ways, and in different orders. By being aware of the grieving process, those who are grieving can understand the stages they are in. This awareness helps you understand yourself and will allow you to openly communicate about your grief. This open communication facilitates healing and can allow you to cope with and move through the pain that has come from the loss.
Grief and Coronavirus
Grief does not only apply to death, but to other forms of loss, as has been illustrated over the past several months with COVID-19. These losses include physical or psychological experiences that are not as concrete or identifiable as traditional losses of death at an old age, although it has also tragically included that. Loss is sometimes intangible, and the mourning process can become complicated (Betz & Thorngren). These losses include graduations, vacations with friends, being able to see siblings and extended family members, a child’s play, or even the loss of certainty and what we expected from life and how it has changed. Regardless of the type of loss, the emotional experience is deep, and the grieving process is unique to everyone.
Grief is a complex emotion. The pain and sadness are a reflection of the value and love you have for the person or loss you are grieving. Although there are patterns of grief, allow yourself compassion and allow yourself to validate the extremely important emotions you are feeling. You are not alone. Connection, support, and open communication can help with the grieving process.
Kelly Leon is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern who specializes in helping individuals, couples, and families heal from the pain of losing a loved one. She has experienced the pain that comes from losing a loved one and the deep sense of loneliness and exhaustion the grieving process puts on a grieving person’s mental, emotional, and physical health. She also knows how powerful therapy can be in helping a person heal from their loss.