August 30 of each year is designated as grief Awareness Day. It is not a day to promote sorrow. Instead, it is a day to bring awareness to ways to cope with one's own grief as well as helping others to cope with theirs. A lot of people think the sorrow is limited to having a family member or loved one die. Grief is so much more than that.

What grief is

In order to cope with grief, a person needs to know what it is. In short, it is the response to a Loss of someone or something important in a person's life.

Grief is the process of dealing with a loss of any kind, whether it is the loss of a job, relationship, home, car or something else.

Those who have experienced a loss have probably been told by a counselor, chaplain or pastor that there are five stages of grief. Going through those stages are very important and everyone must go through all of them in order to cope. Each stage is just as important as the others.


It was in 1969 when Elisabeth Kübler-Ross laid out the five stages in her book, "On Death and Dying." Counselors have been using those stages since then to help people deal with their loss.

The first stage is denial. You might hear people say, "I don't believe it." These are not just words. It is a real emotion of a grieving person. It is something the person cannot believe at first. However, as time passes, the grieving person goes through the second stage of anger. Know that a person dealing with grief will get angry and lash out at anyone at any time for no apparent reason. This is a normal reaction, so don't think you are the target.

The third stage is bargaining. You will hear a grieving person making "what if" and "if only" statements. The person tries to negotiate his way out of the pain by stating what he will do differently.

The fourth stage is depression. The person accepts that the loss is real and this is the stage when the depression becomes more obvious. The fifth and final stage is acceptance, when the person begins to look forward instead of looking only backward.

No one is telling people to forget their loss, but they are able to move on to accept a new normal.

The five stages are not in a straight line. That means a grieving person doesn't go through one stage never to return to it. They can return to a stage more than once. In fact, they can bounce between them without any warning. One thing to keep in mind is that every person is different with his or her own grief. Therefore, it is inappropriate to tell someone else how to grieve or how long to stay in a particular stage.

Share this information with a grieving person on Grief Awareness Day on August 30.

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