Helpful articles for overcoming life's challenges

Coping With Grief

Coping with loss is inevitable at some point in our lives. Grief can be confusing, overwhelming, and exhausting with no time line or exact formula to tell you what to do. It is challenging because of the different variables involved in the grief event. Grief is not limited to the death of a loved one alone, rather it is a normal response to the death of something we once loved or cherished; such as a job, a pet, a failed relationship, or a move from your home town. Grief does not end, rather ebbs and flows depending on anniversary dates, holidays and treasured memories; therefore, knowing what to expect while you are dealing with your loss can be helpful.  In fact, it may seem like a tornado of emotions just swirling around in your body. This is normal to some extent. Sometimes, if not dealt with, grief can turn into a severe depression. If you feel you may be suffering from depression, please click on our depression link. Below are five stages of grief we all go through; however, they do not always go in order.

The Five Stages of Grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

More recent studies have shown that grief consistently unfolds in four phases which are written below. Again, there is no set time frame on how quickly you will move through each phase; however, everyone does move through them in order. Grief is a process. Be patient with yourself and never let anyone rush you or belittle your grief.

  1. To accept the reality of the loss.   This means working through the denial and the “numb” feeling. You may intellectually be aware of the loss; however, the emotions of the heart have not caught up to reality.
  2. To process the pain of grief. Yes, as stated above, grief can be painful affecting us physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. The only way to deal with grief and loss is to go through it, to talk about it, and experience it; preferably with a trained professional. Some people may find comfort in speaking to their clergymen or go to a grief support group depending on their situation.
  3. To adjust to world without the deceased or loss. This means adjustments in three areas of life; external, internal and spiritual. It not only means looking at new roles and new skills, but also dealing with self-esteem and challenged beliefs. Perhaps you are someone who does not work outside the home and now you need to. This could bring about mixed feelings as you move forward into adapting to a new way of living.
  4. To find an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new life. As you adapt to your new way of living, you will need to adjust how you celebrate or connect with the deceased. Regardless of the type of loss, this is a time of transitioning from your old way of living to your new way of living. Just like the caterpillar sheds its cocoon and transforms into a beautiful butterfly, you also need time to make your own transformation and start anew. This can be taxing and stressful so remember to be kind and gentle to yourself.

At The Center for Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry we want you to know that whatever your grief or loss situation, we can help. You do not need to go through it alone. Our seasoned clinicians can help guide you through this time of need.   You may contact us at 847-440-2281 to set up an appointment with a therapist or you may go to to read more about grief/loss and or depression.