Lesson 3:

Stages of Grief

There are many charts, wheels and drawings showing the stages of grief.  The one I am particularly fond of is from Threads of Hope, Pieces of Joy.  It resembles a giant letter “V.”  It starts with our loss and progresses downward along the “V” with various negative emotions/feelings ending at the lowest point with depression and then progressing upward along the other side of the “V” with more positive emotions.  Another illustration is more of a wheel with our circular “life function” being interrupted by the death and affecting us with similar emotions until we progress around the wheel to a new life function.

It was not until I realized that our grief is not constantly progressing from bad to good that I decided to create my own illustration of the stages of grief.  We will discuss the roller coaster ride in the next lesson.  For now, let’s look at the actual stages individually. Grieving includes the following stages:

The Stages:

          Loss – Your baby has died.

          Shock/Numbness – I don’t feel anything. I can’t think. I cannot process what just happened.

          Denial – This is not happening to me. My baby is not dead. This is all a nightmare and I am going to wake up.

          Anger – Why did this happen to me? Why can’t I deliver a live baby? Why didn’t I do more to protect the baby? Why didn’t You answer my prayers? Why did You let my baby die? Why do others say such hurtful things?

          Guilt – “If only” I had done this or that. Why couldn’t I stop this? What if this or that had been different?

          Fear – How am I going to get through this? What if I never stop hurting? What if something happens to my living children?

          Depression – I feel intense pain and emptiness. I feel abandoned. I am empty. Maybe it would be better to be with my baby.

          Back to Life – Color is coming back into my world. I just need to stay busy. I need to do this or that. I need to go back to work. [Actually, this is the stage where you start doing things again…but, do not forget to allow yourself down time.]

          Acceptance – I am beginning to understand that I may not get an answer to the whys. I am able to function again. I am able to take positive steps forward.

          Hope – I have a hope for a new future. I feel God helping me heal. Others who have lost babies have shown me the way.

          Letting Go – [THIS IS NOT FORGETTING! YOU WILL NEVER FORGET YOUR BABY!] I feel like I can release my child to God. I have recognized that my life will never be the same, but that I do have a life to live. I can begin to plan for the future. I can laugh and smile again. I have a renewed energy.

          “New Normal” – I am back to functioning normally in this world. I am changed forever, so my normal is different. I have a new understanding of life, human value, and death.

This presents an overview of the various stages of grief. You may experience some or all of them, and they may be in a different order. Some may last longer than others, and some may be stronger than others. Grief is very personal. Also, know that you do not progress through them “in order” from bad to good.