Grief is painful, challenging, often unexpected, and inevitable. As humans, we understand that loss will happen, that people will die, and that circumstances will change – sometimes when we are not ready. This awareness does not make grief any less difficult. Our world has started to discuss grief more openly.
I find that many of the clients in my office often have some understanding of the Five Stages of Grief:
Many even understand that the stages do not happen in a linear fashion and are revisited throughout the grief process (visit grief.com for more info on that!). Something new I have come to observe in my work with those experiencing a loss or death is this part of the Acceptance Stage where the grieving process itself has to be grieved.
With Acceptance, conflicting feelings present themselves. We try to make sense of how the pain can be subsiding, yet still, we have thoughts of betraying our loved one or emotions about leaving a part of our life or ourselves behind. I have been exploring with clients this idea of acknowledging the role that grief has played in their lives. Together, we have uncovered this sadness that comes with moving into acceptance, as we realize that we now have to live in a world where this person, place, experience, or expectation does not.
In some cases, as we grieve, we find new support from those around us that we have never experienced. People call more frequently, they are intentional about inviting you to dinner; they may send words of encouragement, share a picture of your loved one, or introduce you to new people and opportunities. While the reason these new connections are happening is painful to recognize, sometimes the added love and support is welcomed. It can be scary to move into Acceptance for fear that those people will leave. We wonder, “If I’m okay, will they still be there?”
We already knew that grief was complicated. It happens differently for every individual and for each situation. Now we can deepen our understanding of the Stages of Grief themselves – in particular, Acceptance. We work so hard to get to a place of Acceptance, yet once there we sometimes aren’t quite ready to let go. Know that those thoughts and feelings are natural, and like the stages before it, you will move through acceptance, too.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.