Interrupting the five stages of grieving

When the grieving process feels like betrayal, we are lost in a limbo of what could have been.

Interrupting the five stages of grievingBy now we have all heard of the airliner that has done missing in the southern ocean. With all the conflicting information released by different governments and story lines being floated by the news media, how are the family members of the missing supposed to carry on? Parallels can be drawn to military families when their loved ones are declared missing in action.

Grieving is a process that is personal, without a set time limit, or road map. Though it is generally accepted that there are five stages of grief.  Those stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

For the loved ones of these individuals, giving in to the grieving process can feel like a form of betrayal, giving up on the hope of the life of the individual. Families and loved ones left in a state of limbo are unable to move through the grieving process. When there is no closure it can be one of life’s biggest challenges.

The human brain functions best when the facts the world presents to us fit our concept of how the world works. This is referred to as our schema, or more simply our world view. When facts or events are too painful or too outside of our ability to comprehend, our brains fail to fully process those facts. Our minds put aside reality, waiting for some new clue or fact or means in which to make sense of the senseless world. Hence, our minds replay traumatic events looking for a logical order or a way out of the pain and confusion. Even after we believe we have dealt with our loss, it can continue to haunt us.

Individuals who find themselves in this situation experience a lack of closure which manifests itself symptomatically by blocking them from moving through each stage of the grieving process fully. Often individuals find themselves repeating each stage over and over.

Working through grief is never easy. Therapeutic help is available to individuals in this situation. A trained therapist may be able to help recognize thought patterns in their early stages and instruct the individual on how to steer those thoughts in a more productive direction. Helping both with the feeling of guilt and betrayal. Don’t go through it alone. Seek help from those around you or a trained professional.