Families and individuals who have lost loved ones often struggle with how to deal with such profound losses. There is no certain way a person should grieve – there are many different stages and types of grief.
Here are some things experts advise families and individuals to consider when faced with the loss of a loved one – a heartbreaking experience for our HEARTS Network members and many others affected by crashes involving teen drivers.
Dr. Donna M. Burns, an educational and developmental psychologist, explains why each person responds to loss differently. Their reactions are shaped by a few things:
- One’s personality , temperament and traits
- One’s relationship with whomever he or she lost
- Prior experiences with loss, regardless of age
- One’s beliefs, customs, culture traditions and values
- Where and how one lives, the amount of support one receives from family and community, and socioeconomic status
- Cognitive, social and emotional development
There are five things that will help someone deal with loss:
- Learning about grief and understanding how life changes after the loss of a loved one
- Learning the truth about coping with loss and the common myths associated with death and dying
- Making wise choices and developing wisdom through difficult experiences
- Being persistent during the healing process
Swiss-born psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, developed the idea that there are five stages of grief:
- Denial, or the unwillingness to accept facts, information and reality. This is a common defense mechanism for those in the early stages of the grieving process.
- Anger, which can manifest itself in various ways including being angry with oneself or with others, especially close family members or friends.
- Bargaining with one’s God, especially when someone is close to death
- Depression, which is also referred to as preparatory grieving, is almost a “dress rehearsal” for the aftermath of loss. This stage means different things to different people, Kübler-Ross says, but is a universal reaction to the acceptance of reality.
- Acceptance, which can cause emotional detachment. People who are dying may enter this stage earlier than those they are leaving behind.