HTWM8: Good Grief Part 1 – Denial
Some say five stages; some say seven. Either way denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance make up our living experience with someone or something we lost. They help us frame and identify our feelings.
I myself have experienced all seven stages over the course of four years after my Mom passed, all of which I documented in my book, Dancing At The Crossroad. We grieve every day without knowing it or understanding it. For this reason, I decided to showcase what grief looks like through a series of live interviews.
Shock and Denial
The shock and disbelief that is felt after the death of a loved one or loss of something dear to you can hit you in waves. You may forget that your loved one is gone, and expect to see them walk in the door; find yourself setting an extra dinner place, or even pick up the telephone to call them like you usually did. Each time you have one of these experiences, you are hit with the reality that who and what you long for is not here.
Denial is a buffer for that reality. It dulls the impact of your loss. Although it allows you a longer time to process your feelings, it becomes a problem if it is used to deliberately to avoid the reality of the loss you are experiencing or to escape the emotions resulting from a loss. These can manifest as chronic depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.
The Good Grief Series
This series starts with an interview with the author, Alvinya Key. Her book, Love or Illusions of Love showcases her life story from the age of 14 years, and the multiple ‘love’ relationships she’s had over almost two decades. She finally accepts after 24 years that she was still grieving from her Mom’s death when she was just 12 years old. She spent those years in Denial and admits she was looking for love in all the wrong places. Listen to our conversation.
Suggestions for Coping with Denial
- There’s no specific time frame for experiencing denial.
- Understand that denial is a normal function in the beginning. It is your mind’s way of protecting you from more pain.
- Your ultimate goal is to acknowledge the truth and accept the reality that your loved one is dead.
- Engage in activities that allow you to confront your loss – relive memories and moments with your loved one: reread old letters; visit memorials; listen to music
- Be honest with yourself and others. Don’t pretend that things are all right when they are not.
- Open up! Maybe you’ve built a shell around yourself, but you must face up to the truth of your pain.
- Take a hard look at what is gone and what remains. Take stock, count, recite and recount what’s been lost.
- Face the fact of the death squarely. Name it, spell it out and talk it out. Replace delicate words and phrases such as passed on and passed away with more truthful terms like died, dead and widowed.
- Know it’s ok to let others see your tears and sadness. Allow others (including children) to participate in your sorrow; it assures them that sadness is a natural feeling when you lose someone or something you love.