The grieving process is something that everyone will experience in their life, and nurses probably will experience it more often than most. By following these four steps, the grieving process can be managed and overcome healthily and efficiently.
Accepting the reality of the loss
The first task of the grieving process is to acknowledge and accept the fact that the person is deceased and will not return. This task could take some time as the bereaved may experience shock, numbness, and disbelief even if the death was expected. Traditional rituals such as funerals and memorials may make saying goodbye easier. It may take a long time for a loss to be accepted and even longer for the reality to be absorbed, so it’s important to remember everyone moves on from grief in their own time and at their own pace.
Experiencing the pain of grief
The bereaved must express their grief over the loss in a healthy way. This task is vital because if the bereaved cannot accept the pain of grief, then these responses may manifest into unhealthy expressions.
Adjusting to the loss
This step in the grieving process refers to developing the skills and learning the roles necessary to moving on without the deceased. This step may take months to complete and includes adjusting to living on your own and being a single parent. Part of adapting to the loss is facing all the “firsts” that the initial year without the deceased will bring.
Reinvesting energy from the deceased into new life
The final step in the grieving process involves investing the emotional energy spent on the relationship with the deceased into new and healthy approaches to life. This does not mean that the deceased is forgotten, or the bereaved has obtained closure, but rather the bereaved forming a new relationship with the deceased. This generally means saying goodbye to the grief, but not saying goodbye to the loved one. Even though the bereaved moves on from the grief, a person never truly gets over a loss.
Losing a loved one is one of the hardest life experiences a person will go through. We hope that by using these steps, grief will be much easier to manage and deal with in a healthy and constructive way. Remembering these steps can help you better support your patients as they go through a painful loss.