Saturday, March 25, 2023

The Stages of Grief

I’m taking a subject that wasn’t what I had originally planned on writing about but the more I thought about it the more I thought that it’s something that I need to share with all of you. The subject is grief.

When we think of grief we usually associate that with dying, but that’s not the only time grief happens. You go through the stages of grief when you go through something traumatic, when you’ve lost something of value or when you’ve been diagnosed with a life changing disease.  Grief comes in five stages, they usually come in an order but sometimes you can be in stage 4 and revert back to stage 1 or something like that but either way you go through them.

This past semester in college I had a class and we were discussing the stages of grief and my teacher pointed out that it didn’t just mean for people that were dying or that had loved ones die. After I read about it in my textbook I realized that I had been through the grief stages more than once.

Stage 1- Denial. When my doctor first told me I had Endometriosis I sat there thinking “No way, I’m too young.”  Of course I wasn’t and all the evidence was there. I think now it’s more of trying to pretend like I don’t. Like when I’m having a good day and I feel good and I feel like I can do anything, I forget to keep myself in check to avoid pain and keep feeling good.

Stage 2- Anger. This stage is one I deal with a lot more then I’d voluntarily admit to. A few weeks ago I and my family went on a trip to Disney World for a week. The first few days were good; I was taking it easy and relaxing, enjoying the warm weather. And then our fourth night there, the night before we go to Magic Kingdom it hits hard. I hadn’t felt good that day but the pain had stayed at achiness enough to where I was trying not to take any strong pain killer so I wouldn’t be knocked out the rest of the night. But at dinner that night it turned from achiness to full blown “I feel like someone is gutting me alive” make-you-sick kind of pain in a few minutes. So needless to say I got the pain killers anyways. I got so mad inside because I felt like, once again, the Endometriosis had managed to interrupt my life. I get angry because I feel out of control. I get angry because I can’t do anything, because I’m fighting something that I can’t see, something that’s inside my own body and something that no one around me can understand.

Stage 3- Bargaining. This stage does have more to do with people that are dying or people grieving over a loved one then someone who has a chronic illness but in a way we bargain too. Sometime I feel like I have to bargain with my body throughout the day just to make it. Something like, “Okay if I do ___ now I could rest and do ___ later and maybe still be okay afterwards.” Maybe the blank is going shopping, going on a hike, you fill in the blank but I hope you can see what I’m saying. We bargain with ourselves. We try to trade thing for another to get through the day.

Stage 4- Depression. For anyone with an illness of any kind this is a big one. Out of all the stages I think this is the hardest one, that might just be me, but for me it is. For me it’s when I feel like I can’t get out of bed and the thought of facing the day seems unbearable. It’s when I get to that place where I desperately need someone to understand how I’m feeling and how weak and alone I feel and no one does. Depression is a fight in itself. Once you get to that place of feeling like giving up it’s a real battle to get beyond that. When someone is a normally upbeat person and then they get down, people notice it a lot more. It can be the most nerve racking thing when someone looks at you when you’re having a bad day and say “What’s wrong with you? Cheer up!!” Even though sometimes the first thing that comes to your mind is “Oh I can show you what to do with your cheer!” you have to understand that the people that say that have never been where you are. If they had they would know to say something, ANYTHING, but that. When you get down and feel like no one understands that is when you need to know more than ever that there are women who understand and know exactly what you’re going through. You have to fight through the dark days. If we get to the place where we live in the dark day in and day out and never get beyond it we have lost the fight.  When you get beyond the dark days reach out to someone who is in the middle of them, you can help someone who is going through it find their silver lining. I have faith in every single one you women that you can do that, you can get through the dark days and turn around and help out someone who needs you, because regardless of how it feels sometimes you are a very incredibly strong woman.

Stage 5- Acceptance. This one is also a little different for people who have a chronic illness. I believe that acceptance comes when you
come to that place where you say “Yes I do have this illness but I am stronger then what I feel and I can fight this”. That is what true acceptance is for me. It’s not accepting defeat, it’s accepting the reality of the situation and accepting that you are a strong woman, that you are a fighter and that in the end you will come out on top.

I wanted to share these stages with you because I wanted to let you know that when you’re going through these things and you’re feeling
this way, it’s okay. I know that when you are having a bad day and you are feeling down or angry that a lot of the times the people in your life who don’t understand what you’re going through can be really insensitive to how your feeling. Sometimes that makes our anger turn and be against them because they don’t understand. Or sometimes it can cause the depression to become directed more at yourself because you feel like you’re weak and you should be able to handle it. Because you get down, or because you get angry doesn’t mean you aren’t strong and it doesn’t mean you’re not a fighter. It simply means you are in the fight and you are fighting for something. It’s okay to have bad and down days but you are strong and you can make it through them. Never let anyone, including yourself, tell you any different.  We’re all in this together.

Much love and pain free wishes! ♥


The informational content of this article is intended to convey general educational
information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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  1. Jessie H.

    I was past the denial stage, because the pain I felt wasn’t normal at all and I knew it was something wrong. But the anger stage got the best of me. I was angry at myself the most. To find out the day after my 22nd birthday, ever since I considered myself as useless, a waste of space, a burden. I felt as if I wasn’t good enough to have a child in the future, not just anger, but extreme fright to know that there’s a chance that I won’t be a mom some day. The word “infertility” scares the living daylights out of me. To surround myself with girls I’ve gone to school with already have children I had extreme hatred and anger towards them. It felt as if I shouldn’t deserve to be a mom one day. The depression stage for me was very tough, even while I have clinical depression which made it 10x harder for me. I finally accepted my disease as part of who I am now, to finally embrace to find myself what’s unique about me. Sure I have this annoying incurable disease, but what really matters is that I survive every day despite of the possibility of being infertile one day in the back of my mind, all I know is that I’m not broken…

    • Rachel

      Jessica I wish I could hug you!! I know exactly what you mean. I grew up thinking that I would be the family girl. The one that would have kids and get to be the stay at home mom, that was kinda my dream. Then when I was diagnosed it felt like that chance had been taken away from me. Most of my friends are very into their jobs and aren’t interested in having a family so when they talk and say that they don’t want kids it feels like a slap in the face for me. So I know what that feels like. You are not broken but a beautiful strong woman and I’m so proud of you for pushing and getting to that place of accepting it and loving the unique things that make you you! Don’t give up and keep fighting!!

  2. Jaclyn

    Anger is also my biggest fight. Depression gets me, but not like the anger does. I am not sure if I have made it to the acceptance stage. Some days I feel like I have, then in comes the anger and I question everything. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rachel

      Jaclyn, Don’t feel down when you find yourself back at the anger stage. I do this a lot! It’s okay to feel angry and question things, it’s just coming to that place where you pick yourself up and keep going. Not letting it control your life and who you are. Keep fighting and know I’m here if you ever need anyone to talk to!

  3. Tasha Brookins

    This is just some interesting info on the STAGES OF GRIEF. Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross also writes alot about this subject and can be applied to any type of loss (minor or major) in one’s life. We all go thru some type of life-changing event at one time in our life so, here’s some good stuff to help cope with it!!!

    • Rachel

      Thank you for sharing Tasha! 🙂

  4. Caroline Gort

    Thanks Rachel – even if you are familiar with the stages of grief, it’s an important refresh, or reminder, because living with a chronic illness (Lupus for me) the stages continue in different levels of severity even after acceptance comes. The old adage that it gets better with time is true, the grieving lessens & becomes easier, but loss is loss, and it never disappears. With a chronic illness, we mourn the life we dreamed we’d have. There are many smaller losses – even just that day in Florida. it isn’t fair, and it hurts, but you are right, our battle does not define who we are. The best we can do is plan, take care of ourselves, prioritize and enjoy what we can do within modifications. A hard fact to accept when we are in the anger stage, but anger helps to fuel the fight, denial can get us through some very tough times, and acceptance brings us peace and focus.

    Take care of yourself, and thanks for sharing.

    • Rachel

      You are so right Caroline! I think one of the biggest things that help when you are in those stages if for someone to reach out and say “Hey it’s okay you’re feeling like this.” I think sometimes we go through the grieving stages beating ourselves up over how we’re feeling because we want to be strong. But being strong is getting THROUGH the stages and not being just stuck in a single one. You learn a lesson in everyone of the stages.
      Thank you! You do the same 🙂

  5. Emily Hunt

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve gone through these stages many times myself. I find that there is always one stage that is particularly difficult for each individual. Mine is depression- I too try to cope with the fact that all of my friends have children (or have at least been pregnant) and while I feel angry at first, I move right past it to depression. I sometimes think “stop feeling sorry for yourself and be happy for them” and it helps, but I cannot help but mourn for the loss of children I haven’t had, and may never have. I have studied a lot about the human body and chronic pain- an interesting fact that I have learned is that pain is caused by stress chemical in the brain- these very same chemicals are the ones that cause depression. Your pain causes depression and in turn, your depression causes pain. It’s a horrific cycle. Whenever I have really painful days, they become very depressed days as well. Now, whenever I start to feel the pain come on, instead of first reaching for the pain killers, I do what I’ve started calling “pixie exercises” and I try to think of happy thoughts (like in Peter Pan, the pixie dust and good thoughts made them fly). For example, this weekend I was driving home from visiting my friend and her new baby. I started to get some cramps, and I was thinking about the baby. I was feeling blue about possibly not having my own, and I noticed my cramps worsening. And so I conciously began to thing “happy thoughts”. I thought about starting Grad school in the Spring, I thought about the awesome card I got in the mail from my old co-workers the other day, and I even thought of this website and knowing that I now have a HUGE resource and support system. And immediately my pain felt better. Of course it didn’t just go away, but it remained tolerable and I remained in a good mood. I didn’t allow my brain to release anymore of these stress chemicals into my body, and as a result I had a pleasant 6 hour drive.
    It is so important for us all to remember that it’s OK to grieve for ourselves as we would for anyone that we love. Allowing ourselves to feel out feelings makes us the strong women that we are. And anyone that reads your article has already proven themself as a strong woman because they are allowing themselves to know that they are strong. And with this site, we can all know that none of us are alone.

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