By Dr. Shari Jainuddin
Many recent (and not so recent) events, socially, politically, and in our healthcare system, have left many of us feeling a sense of loss. Loss of jobs, loved ones, stability, a sense of safety in our homes and community, and physical abilities are all examples of losses. With loss comes grief. Grief can be a strong, gut-wrenching emotion but it can also be subtle. The intensity of the grief does not qualify or disqualify the processing necessary for healing to take place. It is more obvious when there is a death that grief is expected. But it is important to note that grief related to less intense life events needs to be acknowledged so that it can be processed and not seed somewhere in our bodies to fester and later manifest as illness.
Grieving looks different for everyone. The stages of grief are well known: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The word “stages” implies that you move from one stage to the next and many models of grief discuss these emotions as a progression in a linear model and lead you to believe that is true. However, that is not the case. There are no rules when it comes to grieving. It is not true that a certain amount of time should be spent in each stage. In fact, the reality is that we as humans go between these stages in any order, spend varying amounts of time in each, maybe not even any time in one or more of them, and can also return back to a stage we’ve already experienced. When I was taught this in medical school, it was eye opening. So many times in my life I’ve struggled and seen others struggle with grief, thinking “I shouldn’t be feeling like this,” or “I should be done with this by now.”
My intentions for this particular blog are to normalize grief and help bring about awareness. Working through grief may seem foreign and that makes sense in a society that seems to turn away from this emotion. If you think you may need help working through grief, I encourage you to reach out to a healthcare professional.
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