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Grief recovery takes an enormous amount of energy and everyone handles it differently. You canít really wait it out or avoid it - nor can anyone do it for you, although having support through grief helps tremendously. Grief recovery is somewhat of an oxymoron, as grief is a lifelong process. The initial shock and deep pain does diminish over time, but itís never completely gone. Rather, grief is like a wound that heals and closes, but a scar remains. Coping with grief is an active process and recovery is a choice. Grief recovery involves many courses of action, and there are ways to help heal yourself, although it is true that it takes time. Taking it one day at a time is absolutely the best course of action for many - one hour at a time, if necessary. There are certain manifestations of grief recovery that are typical, common and normal. Although grief is a personal struggle and very individual, there are some feelings and reactions that are universal. The intensity of each step will vary from person to person, and theyíll happen in no particular order. You may experience all of the steps, or only some of them. They may happen only once or many times, and sometimes several years after the loss. You may go through one stage very quickly, and stay stuck in another for a longer time. Itís important to remember everyone handles grief differently, and respect your own feelings and reactions.

The Five Stages of Grief:

Denial and Isolation:
At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts activities. There is the feeling of ďthis canít be happening to me.ď This stage may last a few moments, a few days, or longer. Sometimes there is no crying at this stage, and not accepting or even acknowledging the loss.

The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if the person has died), or at the world or God for letting it happen. They may be angry with themselves for various reasons, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.

Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, "If I do this, will you take away the loss?" Bargaining also includes begging, wishing and praying for the person to come back.

Depression and Anxiety:
The person feels numb. There may be feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, or even feelings of fear, for no known reason. They may feel a lack of control and experience periods of sleeplessness and loss of appetite. It is very important at this stage to remember all of these feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. However, do not hesitate to seek professional help from your family physician or grief counselor at this stage if you feel it's necessary.

As the anger and sadness tapers off, the person will eventually accept the reality of the loss. Realization that the person is gone (in death) that it is not their fault, they didn't leave you on purpose (even in cases of suicide, often the deceased person was not in their right frame of mind) In the case of the end of a marriage, for instance, accepting that it takes two to make or break a marriage and itís not entirely your fault. There is a difference between resignation and acceptance. You have to accept the loss, rather than just try to bear it quietly.


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