Stages of Grief and
Self-Care Action Plan
Models to help navigate.
I start the book with a tongue in cheek checklist, but there are times where people feel a need to be able to identify stages and pinpoint moments in time. If you are the type of person, these two models may be useful for you.
I encourage you to read through these models as they are not lengthy nor are they complicated. There are times in life where all you need is a bit of a leg up, something to get you over the hump, or headed in the right direction. Either of these models could help you as a stand alone as they helped me. You can use them in any way that you want. Take them, use them and I wish you luck.
If you want to see and understand how I used them during the first year, then you will need to buy the book. I don't reference them specifically but you can see that there are different stages where depression could have easily consumed me and I didn't let it. In the book you can see there are times where feelings such as shock, denial, pain and anger come in as well.
I will also say that the 2nd anniversary of her death and the 18 days leading to that day, were harder than the first year. It was for me and it was for both my children. Grief will be with you the rest of your life, you are learning to accept it and manage it. Eventually grief walks with you and does not consume you. That will be on your time schedule and no one else's. Two years and I am still purging things in the house. Two years and I still can't make sense of it. Knowing that I am going through the same things you are doesn't help, but know that help is available should you need it.
I wish you all the best going through this process.
Seven Stages of Grief
Through the Process and Back to Life It is important to interpret the stages loosely and expect much individual variation. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next. In reality, there is much looping back, or stages can hit at the same time, or occur out of order. So why bother with stage models at all? Because they are a good general guide of what to expect. For example, generally, a long period of "depression" (not clinical depression), isolation, and loneliness happen late in the grief process, months after the tragedy strikes. It actually is normal and expected for you to be very depressed and sad eight months later. Outsiders do not understand this and feel that it should be time for you to "get over it" and rejoin the land of the living. Just knowing that your desire to be alone with your sad reflections at this time is normal will help you deal with outside pressures. You are acting normally. They just don't "get it".
7 Stages of Grief ...
1. SHOCK & DENIAL: You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
2. PAIN & GUILT: As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs. You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
3. ANGER & BARGAINING: Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion. You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring her back")
4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS: Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair. 5. THE UPWARD TURN: As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.
6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH: As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without your significant other.
7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE: During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward. You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.
Depression Self-Care Action Plan
Depression is treatable!
1. Stay active. Make time every day to do some physical activity no matter how small, such as walking for 10 or 20 minutes.
2.Do something that you think is fun each day. Even though you may need to work a little more at having fun, try doing something that has always been fun such as a hobby or listening to music or watching a favorite video or TV show.
3. Spend time with people who help or support you. When you are feeling down it is easy to avoid people but you should not be alone all the time. Choose people who you can talk to, who listen or who can do your activities with you.
4. Relaxing. For many people with depression, it is hard to stop feeling sad or having unhappy thoughts. Physical activity can help and so can learning to relax. Things like slow deep breathing, saying comforting quiet things to yourself, taking a warm bath or a hot shower or sauna/steam bath can help.
5.Set simple goals. Do not expect too much too soon. Do simple things like reading only a few pages of a magazine or make one bed or fix a cup of tea or cocoa. Delay big decisions until you are feeling up to the task. Give yourself credit for each thing you do and break work into small steps.
6. Do something creative each day. When something's on your mind, chances are you'll feel better when you get it out. All the more so if you're recovering from depression. You'll find you have a better handle on your emotions if you get the creative juices flowing through art, writing, music, or a favorite hobby.