If ever there were a time when we want to ease our pain, it is when we are dealing with death. Losing a family member, friend, even a pet, is one of the most difficult challenges we face, and the temptation to turn to quick fixes is high. The appeal is particularly strong for those who may be starting to rely more often than not on their use of alcohol or drugs to alter their reality. The solution for dealing with death without turning to chemical substances for instant relief is to recognize the stages of grief and to be humble enough to ask for help and companionship of others. People can better face their emotions upon realizing that grieving is a normal and necessary process that comes with loss.
Grieving Includes Recognizable Stages
The late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist best known for her influential work titled “On Death and Dying,” established the groundwork for grief studies by identifying five stages of grief. The stages are guidelines for dealing with dying; they are not bound by particular order and duration.
Upon learning about the death of a loved, the initial reaction usually is shock and denial.
This occurs even when the death is anticipated, as in the case of a lengthy illness or old
Even though we mistakenly believe anger is not an acceptable emotion, it is not the emotion itself that is problematic; rather it is the way we deal with it. It is important to acknowledge anger as part of grieving. Frankly stated, we are angry when people we love leave us.
Making a deal means, “If you (God, doctors, family . . . ) will just help my loved one live through the holidays, then it will be easier to let go;” or, “If you just fight this illness, I’ll do everything I can to help you the rest of your life.” This is an attempt to control an uncontrollable situation.
Deep sadness is probably the emotion we associate with dealing with death. It is a normal part of the process, but not the only part.
When people reach a stage of acceptance, they are more fully able to deal the reality of death. With acceptance, it is easier to reach out to others. Allowing others to listen and assist while dealing with death makes alcohol and drugs lose their appeal.