Loss is a painful and inevitable part of life, which brings deep grief. Queen Elizabeth said that such “grief is the price we pay for love”, but this unspoken contract is one we typically enter into without thought or a true understanding of the gutwrenching pain that will eventuate.
Most people are surprised by the depths of their grief and its enduring hold on them, even years after their loved ones are no longer in their lives. In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross formed a model for grief, which outlined five universal stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This model is no longer thought to be reliable or comprehensive, as we now recognise that grief is not linear and it unfolds uniquely for each individual. We may experience only some of these stages or multiple stages at once. We could experience them randomly and frequently.
Pop culture references continue to portray the Kubler-Ross model, not because it is accurate, but because it is straightforward and delivers the happy ending that most people seek from movies and tv shows. Unfortunately, such portrayals can make people feel even worse about coping abilities. They also seldomly portray less common types of grief, which can be even more difficult for people to open up about, such as:
- Anticipatory grief: Grief experienced before the death of someone with a terminal or chronic illness.
- Disenfranchised grief: Grief experienced when you endure a loss that is hidden or thought to be less significant and is not socially recognised.
- Collective grief: Grief experienced by a group who has been affected by an event leading to mass casualties.
When people are struggling to cope with grief and loss, they initially either turn inward in an attempt to shut it out, tough it out, or they turn outward and lean on friends and family.
After a while, however, even people who originally relied on friends and family stop talking about their grief. Even though it may not be true, it’s common for people to begin to feel like a burden. Those grieving over extended periods often perceive that other people expect them to be “over it” and handling things better as time passes.
If this is your situation, or you simply don’t have anyone to turn to, it’s important you know that there are people willing to listen and people who can help.
Griefline is a service designed to support people suffering from grief, loss and loneliness. It is not a crisis helpline. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, unmanageable distress or contemplating suicide, you should call Lifeline on 13 11 44.
If you just need to talk to someone, though, call Griefline on 1300 845 745, any time between 6am and midnight. Their volunteer counsellors have been trained to offer you a listening ear, empathy, and practical and emotional support.
Whether you have experienced a miscarriage, the death of a loved one or pet, a relationship breakdown with a partner or friend, or are just feeling unbearably lonely, Griefline can help.
The Griefline website offers resources on coping with grief, loss and loneliness. It also hosts a community forum where you can share your experience with a supportive community that can relate to your pain or benefit from being compassionate towards others.
We hope you know that there is always a place you can turn during seemingly intolerable grief and that you’re grieving gets easier day by day.
For more valuable resources on managing grief, see: