Current literature points to three primary stages of grief. This 3 part blog post series offers a quick highlight of those three “new” grief stages.
The Second Stage of Grief – Part 2 of 3
SUFFERING – the second of the 3 new stages of grief.
When the initial shock phase begins to wane – the “waves” of pain begins. This time is marked by extreme and overwhelming emotional discord and pain. The jarring to our psyche during this time is so incredible that the emotional pain may present as tangible; physical pain.
Typical symptoms include insomnia and disrupted sleep, restlessness, low frustration tolerance, guilt and anger, overwhelming sadness, rapid mood swings, loss of appetite, weight loss, chest pains and even severe periods of anxiety and even panic attacks. (Don’t write these off though – symptoms like chest pains are better assessed by your physician promptly. Even though these are common symptoms – it doesn’t mean they should be dismissed.) During this time – most of us feel like we may actually be “going crazy” and losing our sanity in the midst of our grief.
In this phase you need the support of loved ones more than ever. The challenge though is that at this point it is all too common that many folks have resumed their everyday lives; work and family routines, etc. Sometimes we even get pushed to “get up and move on” with our own life – which can be an incredibly isolating and very lonely experience.
Seeking a solitary path to coping with the loss is not a good idea in most cases. This is a pivotal time. Even the strongest of us can use the support of another – we are communal creatures, after all. And even though you may feel very against it – a counselor or support group at this stage can have an enormously helpful impact on your days ahead.
When you get well into this Suffering phase – you will find your daily life may fall into a more regular or patterned routine. But it doesn’t mean the inside of you is that way – in fact, the continual tide of depression, isolation and loss rolling in can make you feel like a churning river inside.
Here’s the point to hold to. If your feelings are evolving and changing as you move through this period, even as conflicted as they may be at times; ie if your internal river is still moving – than your grief is likely on the right track. If you feel stuck or progressively stagnant – you need to get more help.
In the midst of this unpredictable and rolling river of emotions it is important to let yourself feel it and be with your grief. Don’t deny it, hide it or try and shield it from others. You do not “have” to grieve in a certain way. As long as your safety and that of others is not at risk, there is probably no real wrong way to grieve…except not to.
One more thing – this stage isn’t necessarily brief. The waxing and waning of grief during this time can last for months – and even off and on for years. Don’t lose hope. The chaos diminishes and life does resume, differently, but yes, real life.
A very dear friend once shared with me, “Don’t believe those folks who tell you that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t. But time does change it from a searing agony in your head to a soft, heartfelt longing in a beautiful place deep in your heart.”
Ben Carrettin – The Second Stage of Grief – Part 2 of 3
Texas Recovery Support – Grief Counseling