Monday, April 20, 2015

Moving through the stages of grief.

Everyday someone asks me how I'm doing, for the most part I just smile and shrug my shoulders.  It's been 4 weeks today since my dad died.  The pain in my heart has gone from being a sharp searing pain to more like a dull ache.  I picked up my dad's ashes last Tuesday and that was tough.  By Thursday I was finally ready to look at the death certificate and found something that surprised me.  The cause of death was listed as "end stage senile dementia".  He didn't have Alzheimer's so I did some research.  I found this article about how the brain behaves after a stroke, or with dementia or Alzheimer's.  It basically outlined what we've been through the last year.  I wish one of his doctors had shared this with us before I think it would have been helpful.  I have to remind myself that I was very lucky, my dad never got to the point where he didn't know me and he never lost his speech.  And as much as I miss him I know it's better that he's not trapped in his body any more. 

Below are the 5 stages of grief, it's something every deals with differently...

How Do We React to Grief and Loss?

There are specific stages of grief. They reflect common reactions people have as they try to make sense of a loss. An important part of the healing process is feeling and accepting the emotions that come as a result of the loss.
Here are the common stages of grief that people go through:
  • Denial, numbness, and shock: Numbness is a normal reaction to a death or loss and should never be confused with "not caring." This stage of grief helps protect us from experiencing the intensity of the loss. It can be useful when we have to take some action, such as planning a funeral, notifying relatives, or reviewing important papers. As we move through the experience and slowly acknowledges its impact, the initial denial and disbelief fades.
  • Bargaining: This stage of grief may be marked by persistent thoughts about what "could have been done" to prevent the death or loss. Some people become obsessed with thinking about specific ways things could have been done differently to save the person's life or prevent the loss. If this stage of grief isn't dealt with and resolved, the person may live with intense feelings of guilt or anger that can interfere with the healing process.
  • Depression: In this stage, we begin to realize and feel the true extent of the death or loss. Common signs of depression in this stage include trouble sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, and crying spells. We may also have self-pity and feel lonely, isolated, empty, lost, and anxious.
  • Anger: This stage is common. It usually happens when we feel helpless and powerless. Anger can stem from a feeling of abandonment because of a death or loss. Sometimes we're angry at a higher power, at the doctors who cared for a lost loved one, or toward life in general.
  • Acceptance: In time, we can come to terms with all the emotions and feelings we experienced when the death or loss happened. Healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into our set of life experiences.
Throughout our lives, we may return to some of the earlier stages of grief, such as depression or anger. Because there are no rules or time limit to the grieving process, everyone's healing process will be different.

We're still a long way from our goal for the memorial, please contribute if you're able.