The 6th Stage of Grieving

We are happy to recognize the great strides our society has made in the last decade toward acceptance and understanding of those who suffer from mental illness. Conversations about depression that used to be such a taboo are now validated and celebrated as discourse towards healing. We applaud those of you who, on this blog and others like it, open up about your struggles and share a little of your pain.

Grief is one of our regular topics because there are so many of us out there who are living in it. We appreciate our readers who reach out with questions and comments that uplift others by helping them feel less alone. Grief can be challenging to talk about online, as it’s still one of those things we don’t fully understand for every person dealing with it. The difference between someone admitting they’re depressed and someone reaching out because they’re living in grief is that most people expect those who are grieving to “get over it” eventually. We can be a lot less understanding about grief than we are about other emotional struggles because we believe it to be temporary. And it is. Sort of. Sometimes.

The Grief that Doesn’t Go Away

Long after the viewing and the funeral, months after the life insurance is settled and the unused clothes are put away, what seems like forever later actually feels like the day after it happened. Every day. Every morning slowly reaching consciousness, awakening to awareness, only to rediscover the other half of the bed is empty. Opening your eyes and staring blankly into a new day of fake, forced conversations and heavy, painful tasks. You realize you are alone, you are isolated, and everyone is moving on without you. Is it worth bringing it up to your parents again that you still feel unbelievably sad? Is it worth visiting a friend to talk if they’ll just be disappointed your conversation is about the same thing it always is? Maybe you should just stay in bed. It would be easier on everyone. It would feel…less.

The grief that doesn’t go away feels like that, and not for a few days or weeks or even months, but for too long. That’s what everyone tells you, that’s what books and articles say. You’ve been grieving for too long. What do we do once we’ve been through the grief cycle and haven’t bounced back?

The 6th Stage of Grieving

First of all, you are not alone and you are not wrong. Despite what well-meaning associates say about “just letting go” and “choosing happiness instead,” what you are feeling is not something you’re choosing. That 6th stage of grieving, the one some people never even go through, is about finding a new normal that deals with the invisible pain you are constantly choking down. It’s about finding a therapist, counselor, or spiritual guide. It’s about changing your diet and finding some exercise. It’s about taking up a hobby. It may be about abandoning some people you thought were your friends, and finding some people who really are. It’s about sharing what you feel with people who will listen and understand.

You are not wrong to feel the grief that you’re feeling. And you are not alone.

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