Trauma and Grief: 5 Stages

STAGES of TRAUMA, HEARTBREAK and GRIEF  (comments welcome)

The Stages of Grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  We will be reviewing each of these steps in more depth.  Here is a helpful website on  how to Recover from Grief, which lists 7.

We all experience tragedies in life; be it a death, the loss of a loved one, a job, or watching tragedy unfold in the general public, such as mass shootings, horrific accidents natural disasters or the heartbreak unfolding in our country and other countries. At some point each one of us will have to deal with tragedy and it helpful to know the stages one must go through in with dealing with others or accepting this process ourselves.

Stage One: Immediate Tragedy Aftermath 

It can be disbelief with numbness and inability to think.  Decision making is usually difficult and a numbness and disbelief sets in. It may appear that the person is calm, but the mind is overloaded with emotions, questions, that it is nearly impossible to be objective or analytical.  The attention span is short and conversation is hard and even having loved ones present can be difficult.  The best way to handle someone in this stage, as a relative or friend, is let the grieving person know that you are near and you are willing to help, but also give them space to start processing.
For those dealing with someone in grief when they may also be greiving:  The symptoms may be similar if the grief is a multiple tragedy or their are many involved, but the reactions will be different for the caregivers.

“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” ~Samuel Johnson

There are hopeful and helpful Quotes on Grief.

On a personal note:  When the Columbine Tragedy occurred I was an Independent Contractor at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department running the Volunteer Program.  I had 23 Victim Advocate Volunteers in the Volunteer program and the first details were vague; just that a shooting had occurred and the school was evacuated. It was imperative that action be taken to get volunteers to the schools where parents of students were waiting for their children and awaiting further news and information.  No one really talked about it–we just went into action doing what we needed to do, separating from personal emotions. There were few questions asked, few discussions among Volunteers; just doing what they had been trained to do in a supportive and helpful manner.  It was a few hours later that the deaths were discovered and the victims identified.  We just needed to do what was necessary to assist those who were frightened, in disbelief and confused. 

Stage 2-5 will follow