You may or may not know that I lost my daughter…
In 2017, my daughter was diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes pain and inflammation in many different body systems. Additionally, lupus is three times more common and is more severe in Black women than in Caucasian women. Eleven months from her diagnosis, my daughter lost her life.
We all have things cause us to experience grief… you are not alone.
Grief is the natural response to loss. It is the emotional torment you experience when something or someone you love is taken away.
Any loss, even subtle losses, can cause grief. Starting a relationship and leaving single life behind, ending a relationship (even a bad one), loss of stability in a marriage, a romantic partner’s serious illness, and divorce can all result in grief. Whatever the loss may be, it is deeply personal to the individual experiencing it.
February is the month of love, but it is also Black History Month. We must recognize and pay tribute to the generations of Black individuals who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society and highlight the contributions they have made. Moreover, we need to recognize that the historical trauma and oppression Black individuals experience also causes grief.
Grief is an exceptionally individual experience, meaning that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Likewise, there is no right or wrong length of time to grieve. Healing occurs gradually. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months, while others take years.
Though the grieving process is different for everyone, there are some similarities and differentiations between stages of grief. In 1969, a Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kübler-Ross established that the grieving process could be divided into five stages. The five stages of grief are:
The denial stage is characterized by pretending the loss or change is not happening. This denial is a defense mechanism that gives you more time to gradually absorb the information and begin to process it. The anger stage is characterized by hiding the pain that is being carried through redirecting anger at other people or inanimate objects. Though you may rationally understand that the object of your anger is not truly to blame, your feelings are too strong to accept that. The bargaining stage is characterized by looking for ways to regain control or find ways to feel like you can affect the outcome of an event. This results in a lot of “what if” statements and promises or deals to God. The depression stage is characterized by embracing and working through the emotions being felt. This stage can feel extremely overwhelming, as you are finally processing everything you are feeling. The acceptance stage is characterized by coming to understand what the loss means in your life. This stage allows you to accept that there will be a mixture of good days and bad days, and that is okay.
Not everyone will experience all five stages. Additionally, you may not go through the stages in number order and even skip some stages entirely.
Although grief is unavoidable, there are healthy ways to process the pain and come to terms with the loss. It is important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
It is important to realize that though love and grief go hand-in-hand, love is the greatest human experience possible. If you need help working through the grieving process and getting to a place of acceptance and love, reach out to a mental health provider for support today!
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Lupus Foundation of America: https://www.lupus.org/
- Schedule here for your complimentary consultation with me.