Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Grief comes in different shapes and sizes. It changes and evolves over time- just like life. You may be familiar with the Kubler-Ross cycle or the stages of grief.
It's Not So Straightforward
Usually, it is portrayed in a smooth curve or a cycle: but we all know it isn't like this. Grief isn't smooth sailing or straightforward, to say the least. It is jagged. It is complicated. It is constructed of many emotions and stages all intertwined into one. It is like the web of a spider.
You are Not the Only One
This linear portrayal of grief constructs a bad image for those grieving, especially for those in the early stages of grief. Yes- these stages are accurate... But some might not experience every stage, and most will not experience their grief in this thought out sequence. In the midst of grief, it can be frustrating to see that you are not 'on track' with the cycle of grief. Perhaps you went back a step or two or you are still on the same stage... And that is perfectly okay. Grief is unique to every single person out there. You may not want to talk about it yet, whilst a relative wants to.
There are so many differences and similarities we share as grievers. Grief is not a one-size-fits-all: it is important to know that it's different for everyone and there's nothing wrong with you if you are not following a formulaic, step-by-step process of grief.
There is something called anticipatory grief, which is the grief experienced before death. Not everyone experiences this, some people actually experience little grief while a loved one is dying: they don't allow themselves to grieve because it might be construed as giving up hope. When a loved one receives a terminal diagnosis, grief can begin even before the passing of their loved one.
It was only recently that I realised that I experienced some of the stages of grief before my dad passed. First came denial: I didn't want to accept that something was seriously wrong with my dad's health. Then came shock. Finally, after the diagnosis I surprisingly experienced acceptance rather quickly, as I knew there wasn't long left before his death.