Ugly. Bitter. Painful. These are just few of the adjectives normally attached to the word truth. Most often than not, reality is not easy to swallow. The truth hurts, as an adage goes.
This is especially so when it comes to failure, loss, death. We have a varied mechanism when it comes to coping. We grieve differently. Refusing to accept the truth is one. Hatred and anger come in. Then, we feel vulnerable that we may blame ouselves for doing or not doing something. Some may get depressed before acceptance sets in.
The good old days when someone will remind us that everything will be okay is what we yearn in times of sadness and grief. Someone who will wipe our tears, give us a hug and a sweet surprise. Just like when we were little kids. A handful of sweet goodies paints us a smile.
There are five stages of normal grieving that were first proposed in the book, “On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kubler- Ross (1969). These stages (below) may not be experienced in exact order inasmuch as people grieve differently.
1. Denial and Isolation
The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.
Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it.
The doctor who diagnosed the illness and was unable to cure the disease might become a convenient target. Health professionals deal with death and dying every day. That does not make them immune to the suffering of their patients or to those who grieve for them.
Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to give you extra time or to explain just once more the details of your loved one’s illness. Arrange a special appointment or ask that he telephone you at the end of his day. Ask for clear answers to your questions regarding medical diagnosis and treatment. Understand the options available to you. Take your time.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–
If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…
Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.
Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words.
The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.
Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.
Loved ones that are terminally ill or aging appear to go through a final period of withdrawal. This is by no means a suggestion that they are aware of their own impending death or such, only that physical decline may be sufficient to produce a similar response. Their behavior implies that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us.
Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.
From psychcentral.com, 5 Stages of Loss & Grief by Julie Axelrod
Yes. Nobody says it’s not hard. Loss is loss. But with God, the truth becomes easy to digest. We just have to faith it. His truth is much more than a medicine to treat loss. That is the pure truth in spiritual sustenance. Never ugly, or bitter, or painful. The kind of truth that is so sweet and enticing enough to be served to hungry people .
Jesus told him, ” I am the way, the TRUTH , and the life.”
“The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”