Grief comes in many different shapes and forms and affects each person differently. Grief can come in the form of a death in the family, a termination of a romantic relationship, the loss of a friend. In this article, we address the 5 different stages of grief and how to cope with it.

A man with his head on his hands experiencing grief | Grief Counseling in Fair Oaks, CA can help | Counseling for loss

Although experts say that grief can last between 4 months to 6 years, it is ultimately your own journey and you shouldn’t rush the process. 

Grief has a natural rhythm and timeline which can be both stressful and comforting, depending on the situation. One thing is certain, everyone experiences it in their lifetime. Just remember, you’re never alone and always have support around you when dealing with grief.

The 5 Stages of Grief

1. Anticipatory Grief

There are certain circumstances where you are expecting the death of a loved one. This expectation of death is called anticipatory grief. While you are waiting for someone to part, this grief can feel as real and as difficult as the death itself.

2. Initial death

Right after the death of a loved one, the first emotion felt is often shock. This can be overwhelming and give a numbing effect as a way to protect. To some, this is useful since it’s protecting you from all the administrative tasks to be done. 

3. 6 to 8 weeks after death

This is when the symptoms of grief peak. Emotions run high during this period. Things like anger, confusion, denial, guilt, and depression are very common. You begin to realize the person is gone and is not coming back which brings on quite an emotional rollercoaster.. Physical symptoms include poor sleep patterns, loss of appetite, and general fogginess.

4. First year

Within the first year, the support you’ve initially received from friends and family will start to dwindle and fade away. People leave you in your grief while they return to their normal lives.. This can leave you feeling alone and isolated. It’s important to find ways to deal with these emotions and not become too isolated. The first year is also considered the hardest since there are so many reminders and first occasions without the loved one by your side. However, you start seeing new ways to celebrate things you used to do together and slowly begin to feel normal again.

5. 2 years and beyond

After two years, it generally feels better as you get control over your emotions and have learned how to deal with them. You know which experiences will trigger you and how to behave around them.

The Lois Tonkin Method

Though the timeline above is a general guideline, Tonkin has introduced a grief model that for some has been more comforting. The model explains that grief never truly leaves us, instead we grow around it by becoming fuller with life experiences. Eventually, grief itself will be a reminder of the person we lost which is comforting in itself.

man consoling another man due to a loss | Grief and loss counseling in Roseville, CA can help when you lose someone

How to deal with grief

If you have been stuck in a grief situation, it’s important to know that your experience is unique and your emotions are valid. There is no specific timeline for your grief and you must be gentle with yourself. There is no point in comparing your grief to someone else’s because every situation is different. Even if you’re mourning the same person, that relationship is different from yours.  It’s important to surround yourself with a support group and consider other methods such as therapy our professional support.

Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:

In addition to grief counseling, Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, codependency counseling and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.