Grief from losses felt in life, whether death or otherwise is a very real process. To heal from grief is possible and can help protect your emotional and psychological wellbeing.
“Denial” is the first stage of the Five Stages of Grief compiled by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kesler. In essence, this stage occurs when you first hear about the loss and insist that it’s not really happening the way it appears.
But, there’s a lot more to this “denial” than what the word implies. So, let’s go over what really happens when you’re in the “denial” stage.What’s Meant by Denial
When a major loss occurs, your first thought will likely be, “this can’t be happening.” For a little while after that, you might refuse to believe that the loss has actually occurred (or will occur) and continue life as normal.
It’s not that you don’t believe that the loss has happened, but that you don’t want to believe that it happened. As long as you convince yourself that they’re still alive, that you’re still together, or that you weren’t fired, everything is right with the world.Avoiding Emotions
When you deny that something traumatic has happened, you’re avoiding any type of emotion that’s typically involved with grief. To the outside world, it might look as if you don’t care about the loss since you’re not showing any type of outward emotion.
By forcing yourself to stay within the denial stage, you’re making yourself more likely to experience delayed grief. So, instead of experiencing the emotions of grief right now, they’ll happen at a later date instead.
- You might finally begin the grieving process days, weeks, months, or even years later
- Any event or trigger can suddenly ignite the grief without warning
- You’ll still experience the grief at some point
- The suppressed grief will begin to wear away at your emotional and mental states
● You’re only delaying the grief, not completely avoiding it
The most harmful thing you can do when you’re grieving is avoiding your emotions altogether. So, make it a point to allow yourself to begin and continue through the grieving process in order to finally feel some emotions.Slowly Transitioning
Denial is normal, but you’ll eventually find yourself transitioning over to a state of anger. The good news is, it likely won’t hit you out of the blue and at full speed.
Over the course of a few hours, days, or weeks, you’ll eventually start to formally acknowledge to yourself what’s really going on. You’ll realize that the relationship is really ending, your loved one is really sick, or that you really only have a few days left working at your current job.
Once it starts to set in, the emotions will begin to slowly release themselves. You might begin to question how you can possibly continue on with your life after such a traumatic and emotionally draining loss.
The important thing is to just let yourself feel your emotions as they begin to take over. Remember that, as much as you deny that the loss is truly happening, it doesn’t mean that it’s really not happening.Final Thoughts
Once a major loss occurs, you’ll find yourself in a state of complete shock as you begin to dissect the emotions associated with losing someone or something you truly valued. However, this first stage is often void of emotion and leads you to a state of complete denial.
When you’re in the denial stage, you refuse to admit that you’re experiencing the loss or that it’s really happening the way it seems to be. Over time, you’ll eventually come to terms with the loss occurring and begin to feel some sort of emotion.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.