Loss has been part of life since the beginning of time. It happens in nature with the seasons, animals and natural disasters. With humanity’s evolution, especially in certain societies, loss was hushed and shelved away in some imaginary file cabinet called denial. Grief, death, loss and other “sad” words were not spoken. When there were emotions displayed, people became nervous and uncomfortable. Through the unconscious shying away from emotions in grief, many humans were taught that honoring grief and loss was not normal, robbing us of a natural order in the world. In some form or manner we were taught we must “get over” the loss without being given any tools to heal.
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler- Ross, a pioneer in the field of grief and loss, began speaking out on death, dying and the grief process in the 1960’s. Her work allowed people to be aware of a grief process. In her work, she spoke of the 5 stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As time went on she said how she wished she had not called them “stages” because it made it sound like this was a sequential process rather than an ebb and flow with no set order. She spoke of these stages from the perspective of a person in the dying process. In metaphorical terms, when you have a loss, you die as well. Your life, as you knew it, has changed and has disappeared on some level. From this you fall into a natural grieving and healing process. Three additional aspects that I include are: yearning, isolation and relocation of grief. Relocation is when you are able to change that physical loss into something you transform into a new relation. From this relocation and relationship you have the ability to walk within the world a stronger and healthier person than who you were before you started emotionally healing from your loss. To work with your grief and the phases of grief gives you the opportunity to understand that you are in a natural and normal healing process. Giving yourself permission to heal can help become your motivation for self-realization and gratitude.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing. Please direct questions to Ted Wiard, LPCC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat and Clinical Supervisor for Teambuilders Counseling at 575-776-2024 or GWR@newmex.com.