Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grief—Depression and Acceptance

Grief is a common process most people go through after such sad events. The grieving process, which may continue for several weeks or months, has five clearly identifiable stages. The first stage is denial. The second stage is anger. The third stage is bargaining. The final steps are:

Depression. The depression stage may come when you realize that the divorce is really going to happen. It's the feeling of over­whelming sadness or hopelessness over the loss. Depression may be accompanied by fear, anxi­ety or insecurity about living without one of your parents being there. Loneliness is another facet of depression.

The final stage of grief is acceptance. As time goes by and the other stages of grief diminish, you will be able to accept the reality of the divorce and begin to deal with it constructively. Even as this stage becomes dominant, you may still experience pangs of denial, anger, and depression. But they will be minimal compared to the more positive sense that God is working out your experience for good (see Rom. 8:28).

In some cases it takes many weeks to success­fully navigate all five stages of grief. Some of the emotions and thoughts that you experience dur­ing this time may be new to you or stronger than ever before in your life. You may wonder whether there is something wrong with you for reacting in these ways. There is not. You are going through a common response to a very sad event in your life.

The only real danger as you move through the five stages of grief is to avoid expressing your feelings in inappropriate or unhealthy ways. For example, if depression causes you to want to attempt suicide, this would be responding to grief in an improper and unhealthy way. It is wise not to respond impulsively to any of the strong emotions you encounter as you move through the stages of grief. A youth leader, minister or other trusted friend can help you navigate the stages successfully.

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