Although there are several different models of grief, the most commonly accepted version has five stages. These five stages look different on all of us, but there are always five – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
After a loss, not everyone goes through the stages of grief in the same way. We can’t be forced into the next stage before we are ready – we have to go at our own pace. We may go one step forward then take two steps backward, and this is all part of the process. As always, this is individual.
Grief Stage 1: Denial: “It’s not happening”
In the first stage, denial, we often act as if everything is still as we wanted it to be. There is often little emotion and no crying. We don’t even accept or acknowledge our loss. Sometimes this stage will last only a moment, and for others it may last for quite some time.
Grief Stage 2: Anger: “How can this happen!?”
During the anger stage we experience feelings of wanting to fight back or get even with the medical professionals or ourselves.
Our partners can trigger anger when they remind us of the lost baby. We may even secretly believe that they blame us for the loss. The anger can be directed at anyone or anything but it will be there.
Grief Stage 3: Bargaining: “I’ll do this so it won’t happen again”
Although bargaining may seem strange, it is something that a lot of us do. When we realise that we can’t get our baby back we may start to negotiate with our higher source or ourselves by promising that we will do better or be better if we can just get pregnant again. This is quite natural and is just a part of the process.
Grief Stage 4: Depression: “I can’t bear this”
Depression brings with it overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness and self-pity. We mourn the loss of the baby as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. We can feel a lack of control and numbness.
Although depression is one of the stages of grief, it tends to come and go throughout the whole grieving process.
Generally, if we are past anger, depression will start to fade too. Prolonged depression can lead to suicidal tendencies and the assistance of a professional may be required.
Grief Stage 5: Acceptance: “Okay, it has happened”
Finally, we move into acceptance, which is the final stage of grief. It is important to note the difference between resignation and acceptance. We have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly.
At this point we come to understand that life will never be the same, but we see hope and meaning in the future. This can be the hardest stage of the process for people who mistake acceptance for forgetting.
Acceptance is About Coming to Terms
Acceptance is not about forgetting our baby, but rather coming to terms with the loss and getting on with life.
It is about allowing the wounds to heal for the sake of our health, our relationships and our current or future children.
Each stage of grief takes different periods of time to work through for each of us. To feel pain after loss is normal – it is a part of being human. As always, it is important to find our own path in our own time.
Take care until next time