There is no one way to cope with grief, and it can vary significantly from person to person. Counseling can help most people work through the normal but often very painful process of grieving a loved one. My name is Jennifer De Francisco, LCSW and I help those suffering from grief and loss as a Grief Counselor.

What are the Stages of Grief?

The stages of grief have been outlined by psychologist and theorist Kubler-Ross and are described as being the general evolution of the grief process over time. It is absolutely vital to note that these are not stages to be “accomplished” or “finished” in anyway, but rather a guideline explaining the way that grief is often experienced. Often one stage is experienced before another, only one or two of the stages are dominant for a given person, or all of them can be felt simultaneously. Sometimes acceptance is felt for a period and then the cycle is entirely re-experienced from the beginning.

1. Denial

Although there are negative connotations associated with the word “denial”, denial is a normal and often necessary part of the grieving process. Usually, the loss does not feel real, and the grieving party cannot even feel the pain of the loss at this point. What comes up is feeling numb, and that the loss cannot possibly be real. They are focused on getting things done-the funeral, the arrangements, and other details. Again, this is often a natural part of the process and the shock of losing someone may cause a person not to feel the loss immediately.

2. Anger

This stage involves intense feelings of resentment, anger, or rage revolving around the loss. This anger is often direct at those associated with the loss, such as doctors, mental health professionals, friends, or family and their part to play either in the grieving process, the life of the loved one, or in the loss itself. There is often an intense and unquenching need to understand why things happened and who is to blame. It is not uncommon to be intensely angry with the deceased for dying. There can also be an intense feeling of abandonment by the loved one, and anger for being left.

3. Bargaining

Bargaining involves the “how” of moving on, but the grieving is not yet ready to begin that process. This is often a very depressing and helpless feeling as the grieving is not yet ready to move on, but is contemplating what their life will look like without the loved one. Such questions of “how” including how they will continue to live without the loved one, what their life will look like, and who will be in that future life.

4. Depression

The grieving temporarily loses hope and connection from all things that they love and have connection to. They realize that they themselves are going to die, and that there is a certainty to death. Preoccupation with death during the phase is common, as well as feelings such as, “what is the point?” or “why bother?” As with all other stages of grief, this stage cannot be rushed by the grieving or by others, even if their thoughts and preoccupations seem bleak.

5. Acceptance

Since people are forever altered and changed by loss, they do not “get over” a death of a loved one. They are forever changed by it and the experience is transformative. In fact, death and loss may never be entirely accepted or intellectually understood. But in Acceptance, there is a feeling of being, however tentatively, able to “move on” or “feel closure”. Acceptance can be tentative and fleeting; fresh trauma or stressors can recapitulate the grieving back to any other stage in the grieving process.

When working with individuals who suffer from grief and loss, I find that a Psychodynamic Psychotherapeutic approach is most helpful to help work through the grieving process successfully and with respect and dignity. If you feel that I might be of benefit to you, and live in the Newport Beach, Irvine, or Orange County area, please call me at (949) 251-8797.

IT’S TIME…

For more information about how I can help in your situation or to make an appointment, please call (949) 514-8590 or email me here.