We’ve all been there. The call from the doctor you never expected, the sudden pink slip at the end of the day, or the loss of a family member without warning. Life is a journey through mountaintop highs and devastating valley lows. Often, it is the largest swings from high to low that can derail our days and lead us down unhealthy paths.
While nobody ever wants to plan for bad days, having a plan and practice for how to navigate pain and suffering can help you increase the chances that you will come out the other side stronger – both mentally and physically.
As a health and wellness coach, one of my favorite practices for navigating crisis is to walk through the five stages of grief. Originally coined by psychologist Elizabeth Kubler Ross, there are five stages of grief that are common to every painful moment or experience:
Depending on the severity of the trial and how resilient the victim is with their emotions, these stages may come all at once or in waves off and on as the crisis plays out.
Knowing each of the five stages of grief can aid you in defining where you are in the process of recovery. By implementing healthy habits and routines to keep yourself mentally well in each stage, you can journey from each with success.
In this article, we will take a short look at each stage of the grief process and learn how to recognize and treat each one.
While every situation is unique to an individual, the common first step in the process is denial. Denial can take many forms, including ignoring the reality of the situation to actively arguing against truth in order to manufacture a “safe space” from the pain.
Often difficult to overcome, denial must be dealt with if one is to move forward into the next stage and toward healing. Working with a trained health and wellness expert or a trained counselor can help you move at the proper pace from denial to the next stage: anger.
Anger can take many forms. It can emerge from a lack of control, dissatisfaction with the current status quo of your place in the crisis, or overall feelings of helplessness. Anger can lead to physical and mental lashing out – both at others and at your own wellbeing.
Anger comes from a source that must be identified, and then healthy habits must be built to help you destress in the moment when anger arises. A key in anger is to empathize with yourself, letting the pain overflow into healthy habits such as exercise, mindfulness, and conversations with trusted friends and confidants.
When the wave of anger rises and crests, there is often an emptiness that is left behind. As depression sets in, one may experience a sudden and overwhelming loss of motivation and joy. Those who find themselves with extreme and ongoing symptoms of depression may require medical help.
While depression is a normal part of the grieving process, it doesn’t have to be where you end your journey. Depressive thoughts can be fought with healthy practices such as mindfulness, exercise, and speaking with a mental health professional.
The fourth step of the grief process is known as bargaining. This stage can look unique for every person and may change depending on the crisis or struggle they are enduring. Bargaining is often marked by a desire to negotiate out of the current crisis or find someone or something to blame. In unhealthy cases, many individuals experience bargaining through self-blame. For others, bargaining may look like negotiating with a higher power, promising to “do better” for a better outcome.
Trying to find hope in the midst of grief is not bad and should never be seen as weak. Never shame yourself for experiencing bargaining, but also understand that this will not bring the hope or healing that is necessary.
After walking through the entire grief process in a healthy way, the final step should be acceptance – seeing reality for what it really is and knowing that you have journeyed through an incredibly difficult season successfully.
Granted, your life may never look the same, but remember this fact: you are now a stronger and more powerful individual for having experienced these healing stages.
At Health, Wellness, & You, I have devoted my life to helping individuals just like you find hope and healing through holistic health and wellness practices. If you would like to learn more and find other resources on how to live a happy and thriving life, visit us online to discover how healing, hope, and freedom are possible for you – today!