The Stages of Grief – Part I

(We decided that because so many new members have joined our group since we first began this blog back in November 2012, we should re-post the grief study.  This study takes the traditional models of grief and puts them through the filter of God’s Word, in order to present a Biblical view of grief and suffering.)

Grief can be as the waves in the ocean with sudden rip tides that carry a person out to sea – a sea with no navigational charts.

The waves can be random in size and strength. Some are little breakers, and others have the size and strength of tidal waves. Some are dark and stormy, and others are crystalline blue. Some can be ridden in to the beach where sure footing can be found, yet others rip the feet out from under as they ruthlessly and mercilessly toss about.

The Process of Grief

No matter which model is used, stages are not linear in nature, with grief neatly following each stage within a certain frame of time, such as seen below:

Rather than grief moving from one stage to another in orderly fashion, it is more aptly likened to the crazy, unpredictable movement of a ball in a pinball machine.

There is no rhyme or reason to grieving.

A. The Explosion:

The emotions associated with grief can be like a bomb that explodes upon everything around it. Just like the devastation of a real bomb, these emotions can take over life with intensity and even potential long-lasting destruction, depending upon how we respond to them.

B. The Skip:

As already stated, the emotions surrounding grief do not follow a neat, orderly, linear fashion. Some people may go from stage 1 right into stage 3. Some others, though unusual, may go from stage 1 straight into the stage 5. Sometimes, the skip may even be backwards. (See “The U-turn.) Again, there is often no rhyme or reason.

C. The U-turn:

A particular stage can be reached, and then, because we are not quite ready to process the pain, we can recede back into the previous stage. Or perhaps the fear of losing the comfortable blanket of grief will cause a reversal right back into one of the beginning stages.

D. The Vacillation (Indecisiveness):

Two stages of the grief cycle may go back and forth repeatedly for days, for weeks, or perhaps even for months. Just when it may seem that final stages have been reached, something new present itself, and once again, old familiar emotions will need to be worked through.

Sometimes, there are layers that need to be peeled away, and only as we move to a new stage of grief, is that underlying layer revealed. So then, we need to go back to a former stage, in order to work through the newly discovered layer, before once again, moving back to a later stage of healing.

E. The Ricochet:

This is similar to the Vacillation, yet is much more intense, as it often comes as quite unexpected. Just when we were confident that the one stage had been reconciled, we find ourselves thrown back into it. Just when we are sure we have found victory in one area, we may find ourselves ricocheted, with a force that staggers, right back into defeat again.

This occurrence can often cause devastation or depression, as we find that a stage we were relieved to have left behind, has us immersed once again.

In the next study, we will examine the stages of grief in detail and offer a Biblical response.

Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC. Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2012. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp002p08-23-12

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