The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. At times, people in grief will often report more stages.
Just remember your grief is an unique as you are.
One if the biggest misconceptions I had before experiencing grief was that the stages of grief are this linear path we follow until we "get through" the grieving process. What I learned from grief is that it is much messier than that. At times I felt like I was experiencing all these stages at the same time. Part of me accepting he was gone, yet still is disbelief that he isn't coming back. Anger has been present from day one, I am angry at life, at myself, at the universe, at God. There is so much anger about the situation.
Sadness and depression are not exactly the same.
According to Psychology Today, "That is one key difference with depression. People suffering from major depression tend to be isolated and feel disconnected from others, and may shun such support and assistance. People who don’t get such support, or who avoid it, may be at greater risk for slipping into clinical depression during the grieving process."
I have experienced depression on and off throughout my life. In grief there has been constant sadness but I feel like there are periods where I am in major depression, I have no desire to be around anyone, to work on goals, to try to help myself heal in these times I rarely reach out for support (which is not healthy, I recommend reaching out for support, especially when you are at your lowest). I have other times when I am sad but I want to work on my sadness, I want to practice self-care, reach out for support, and help myself heal.
When my son first passed the pain was excruciating, it was like a pounding ear infection. I can only use what I know, and as a person who has suffered with ear infections my whole life, I know that a bad ear infection consumes you. It's constant, no matter what you try to do the pain is so loud it blocks out anything else. As time went on, it was still in my mind but a tiny bit quieter so I could hear messages of hope and start my healing journey. What surprised me was that it's not linear, I didn't get to a certain point and stay there, or move on. At times, life an ear infection, the pain would grow loud again. I felt disappointed in myself, "what happened?" "You were doing so well!" I would question myself. 7 months into this journey and I am back at day 1? How does that happen?
Grief is more like a roller coaster
Grief is not linear. In fact, my grief is more like a roller coaster. It's all over the place, it's messy. That's okay! That's grief. It's nothing you are doing wrong, it's not your fault. Don't add to your pain by feeling guilty about your self perceived "lack of progression." You can be healing and hurting and, happy and sad and all those things at the same time. You can accept what has happened and be in disbelief at the same time. You can be all over the place and still working through it.
Grief isn't something you work through and the job is done
Grief is not a job to complete, you work through it and it's done. Or maybe for you it is, everyone's grief is different. For many, like myself, grieving is an ongoing process. You never "get over it" but you work on being able to live with it. You learn to live with the pain, and some days it won't be blaring so loud that you can hear life again. Be patient with yourself!!