My best friend sent me that text yesterday. Time just stood still. 6 months is all the doctors giving my friend’s mom.
I have been friends with Sis (that’s my friend’s name) for the past 21 years. We’ve seen each other through so many ups and downs. To me, she is the only friend who knows me inside and out. Her mom is one strong woman. Sis is the eldest and have 2 younger sisters. One moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband while the last flies with Singapore airlines. Because Sis has yet to lose anyone, I’m dedicating this post for her.
Stage 1: Shock & Denial
When I met her at the hospital this afternoon, I can see that she is still in shock. I mean, she has only known the news for 3 days and there wasn’t any hints that her mom was sick except for the constant coughing and backache. She told me that she understood and know that her mom is suffering from lung cancer but she is going to live through it. As you can tell, she is indeed going through the first stage of grieve. I think it is also a form of defensive mechanism for Sis to hide from the facts which are in front of her. Part of stage 1 is also to tell ‘the’ story over and over—one of the best ways to deal with trauma. Eventually, we may begin asking questions such as, “How did this happen,” or “Why?”. This is a sign that we are moving out of the denial phase and into the feeling and healing process.
Stage 2: Anger
This is going to be the second most painful stage to go through during grieving. There can be various forms of anger. Anger to yourself, to the dead, God etc. This happens because we are not ready to face the truth when presented to you. Anger in indeed a natural response to grieve. Saying that you are indeed angry and letting yourself feel the angst is actually part of the healing process.
Stage 3: Bargaining
“If only….” would always be the words coming out from your mouth – this would mean that you are already at stage 3. You may want to change things if you have known it sooner. You go through this phase and start a bargaining chip with God in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.
Stage 4: Depression
The strongest emotions evoked throughout this stage, giving you the intense feeling of emptiness, pain and sadness. It’s not a clinical depression we’re experiencing, but rather bereavement and mourning, and the emotions of depression must be experienced in order to heal. We have to let ourselves feel the pain, loss, grief, and sadness, hard as it may seem. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.
Stage 5: Acceptance
People keep saying that acceptance is the final from of grieve. How apt. Many people mistakenly believe that “acceptance” means we are “cured” or “all right” with the loss. But this isn’t the case at all. The loss will forever be a part of us, though we will feel it more some times than others. Acceptance simply means we are ready to try and move on—to accommodate ourselves to this world without our loved one.
Coping with loss is a ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.