When experiencing a devastating loss, it's like a punch followed by a nasty flu. While it may feel initially like you and your loved ones are caught up in a never-ending spiral of disbelief, sadness and emptiness, it is important to remember that the shock and overwhelm are not permanent. From my perspective, grief is part of the process of Integrating two realities into our life, the life and the loss, the presence and the absence, the potential and the impossible. In the meantime, the aches and pains are everywhere.
When I think of the stages of grief, I think of this as a more accurate depiction, especially at the beginning.
The emotions can be intense and varied, all over like a pinball machine. And while there are stages of grief that people go through - moving from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance - the cycles of grief often move in spirals, sometimes circling forward and then back again. You will experience moments of strength and laughter in between. And while these emotions seem to come and go sporadically, it is important to feel them, accept them, and allow them to flow, and eventually you see a a direction you are headed with it.
I've heard it said that, "Grief is love with no place to land". With time, patience, and compassion, you will eventually find a place for your experience to land safely and peacefully, and notice the overwhelm subside as you integrate your new reality of life without your loved one into your present. The pinball will stop "pinging". Your thoughts and feelings of your loved one will find a place to rest. Generally, as we move through our grief, we may find ourselves reluctant to release our pain, fearing we are letting go of who or what we have lost. We may even regard our movement toward healing as an act of disloyalty or giving up. Know that while the hurt may fade, the essence of what you had and who you loved will have already transformed you and forever stay with you. If anything, once you are ready for the pain of your loss to subside, their memories can then live more fully within you. This process does not involve forgetting, or diminishing the importance of memories and a shared past. Letting yourself feel restored again, you are surrendering to a natural movement that is part of replacing what might have been with a renewed hopefulness for those still alive.