Grief is described by the intense pain and sadness that humans feel in response to a deep loss of some kind. Grief is an incredibly strong emotion that occurs after massive life events and news, like the loss of a loved one, the receiving of a terminal diagnosis of themselves or someone else, the end of a serious relationship, or the end of a job/career. Grief is a complex emotion, because there is not a set timeline in terms of how it unfolds. Grief has its own agenda, different for each individual who experiences this challenging emotion.
While grief is a very fundamental human experience (we will all experience grief at some point in our lives), it is inevitably challenging. Those facing grief tend to struggle because there is no saying how long the process will last, or what it will be like. While the pain and intensity of grief can change over time, mourning can last for months or even years. What’s helpful is to understand that grief is a process. The more understanding and knowledge that a person can have surrounding grief — what’s normal, what others experience — the more space they can create for the experience to move through.
Grief is often discussed in terms of the “five stages of grief.” The five stages of grief are, in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The five stages were cognized by a psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Those going through grief tend to share that these stages are helpful in naming the different emotions and experiences that arise through the process. Though the states are often experienced in that order, they can also be experienced sporadically. It is possible that an individual may move back and forth between phases before arriving at peaceful acceptance of whatever the loss was. Again, the most important thing to remember with grief is that there is no cookie cutter way through the experience. Everyone’s process will be unique and is worthy of support.
Because grief is a universal experience, it is not meant to be processed alone. Therapy and support are incredibly powerful for navigating grief, as it comes with so many thoughts and emotions to work through. And while there may be various treatments used with grief, mindfulness is one of our go to practices for moving through grief. Mindfulness is the practice of staying present to the moment at hand. This strategy is facilitated by guiding the patient toward body sensations and the environment, so they may anchor into what is happening now. Mindfulness is helpful in moving through grief because it helps the individual stay present and patient with where they’re at on their journey. Instead of wondering when the grief will end, mindfulness encourages the patient to honor where they are at, and focus on addressing the thoughts and emotions that arise.
Colorado CBT invites those in Denver to find support for their grief at our clinic. Our experienced practitioners are so equipped to help those facing grief of all kinds, with different forms of therapy. You may also choose to work with our psychiatric care provider to deem whether medication is an important step in your healing journey. To begin this process, please reach out to make an appointment!