When my sister died the year before I went to Humber College, I kept everything inside. I avoided being around the people who could have helped me the most because I thought that when people had a common reason to grieve, they couldn’t support each other. How wrong I was! One of the most interesting courses that I took when I was in the Funeral Service course was called “Psychology of Grief”. I remember sitting on the floor of my room in Toronto typing out assignments for that course; the tears running down my face partly because I was reliving a time of my life that hurt too much and partly because I learned that all those things that I had felt when Bev died were actually normal.
There are stages that we all go through when a significant person in our life dies and although some have different names or thoughts, I’ll tell you what I know. I can’t stress to you enough that it’s never too early and it’s never too late to learn about grief. And so for the next few weeks, I want to talk about ten stages that we will all go through at our own speeds, when someone close to us dies.
The first stage is Shock and Disbelief. Sometimes shock is so great that people react in abrupt ways. I know personally of a time when the bearer of bad news was punched by the person receiving the news, but generally shock makes us numb. Shock and Disbelief is a buffer period. This is the time when you are on your way to the hospital and you’re thinking that maybe you heard something wrong, maybe it was somebody else and maybe this is just a bad dream. This stage allows you to get your thoughts together and prepare yourself. It is for this reason that it is important to see the person who died because that is the single moment that allows you to face the reality and to begin working through your own grief.