What is the next phase after death

Coping with grief: stages of grief

Basically, every person takes a different amount of time to process the loss. The phases of grief that are experienced can be characterized in different ways. We will introduce you to two different approaches. All stages of grief can be severe and people shouldn't be afraid to seek help. Be it in conversation with friends and relatives or anonymously via telephone counseling.

Phases of mourning after Verena Kast

The Swiss psychologist Verena Kast developed a 4-phase model for the classification. The model assumes that the grieving process is over when a reorientation in the life of the griever can take place. The length and the way in which the phases are lived through vary depending on the personality.

1. Mourning phase: not wanting to believe

Many people go into some kind of shock when they are informed of the loss of a loved one. This phase can last from a few hours to several weeks. The body reacts in different ways: sometimes through apathy, sometimes by collapsing. Various body reactions take place, expressing panic and fainting about irretrievable loss. The circulatory system can react with sweats, palpitations or sudden vomiting. What has happened cannot yet be properly grasped due to the drastic change in the structure of life. Our entire system is trying with all its might to suppress the painful fact.

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What can you do yourself during this period of grief?

Everyone needs different things while coping with grief. Since the first phase of mourning is usually characterized by numbness of emotions, it is often just a matter of getting through it in this phase. In addition, try to seek support from loved ones. It's okay to seek help with things that are easy to find. Often times, even the most mundane tasks seem like an insurmountable obstacle. Be lenient with yourself, you don't have to go through this pain alone.

How can you help others during this period of grief?

If you would like to support relatives who are in the first phase of grief, you can do so primarily through presence. Just be there and give your grieving loved one the space they need. It is less important to talk to the mourner. It doesn't need many words: Just the feeling of not being alone can have a big impact.

Since many mourners are often overwhelmed with the formalities involved, you can support this by taking on the necessary organization and other errands. Mourning alone usually costs all the resources available. Coping with everyday life can then quickly become an enormous challenge.

2. Mourning phase: breaking emotions

In the next phase, the numbness of feeling gradually dissipates. Emotions are now making their way to the surface and, depending on the personality type, strong feelings of pain, anger, sadness, despair and fear can occur. Those affected begin to wonder why it had to hit them in particular. There is a feeling of injustice. Often there is even a faint anger at the deceased: “How could you let me down?” But feelings of guilt can also arise and the mourner can develop scenarios in his imagination in which he could prevent death. The emotions in this phase are differently pronounced depending on the character type and take on different qualities. However, one thing is important: under no circumstances should the feelings be suppressed, as this could negatively affect the ability to cope with grief.

What can you do yourself during this period of grief?

In this second phase of grief, it is very important to get in touch with your feelings and to feel them, even if it can be very painful. Episodes in which one can no longer think clearly because of pain, anger, anger and fear are perfectly normal. Our organism goes through a process that is very resource intensive. But all of this with the aim of returning to a state of normality. That is why it is particularly important to allow the sadness and also to feel the unpleasant feelings.

How can you help others during this period of grief?

In this second phase of mourning, too, you will help your relatives the most if you are there for them and try to support them wherever you can. Neither well-intentioned advice nor attempts at distraction are particularly helpful now. You will be most supportive if you share the grief with the mourner. The supporter should be ready to feel some of the uncomfortable feelings themselves, as this inevitably happens as soon as one decides to make space for the mourner. Be aware that this is not an easy task. It requires that we take ourselves back a little in favor of the mourner.

3. Mourning phase: searching and separating

Now the search begins. If we have now understood that the relative has irrevocably passed away, we still look for signs of the deceased in the dimension of our being. This happens in different ways: for example, we adopt the habits of the deceased, visit places of shared memories and sometimes even believe that we recognize the loved one in strangers on the street. We collect everything that keeps our memories of the deceased alive. At the same time, we begin to question everything that defines our existence. We are looking for a purpose in life, for a reason to move on for. A process is experienced after which a more conciliatory view of the world can be achieved. For many, this phase is characterized by deep self-awareness and self-discovery. However, for some people it is not so easy to find this new meaning in their own life. If there is no reason to go on living, there is often a risk of suicide. The phase of searching and separating can last from several weeks to several years.

What can you do yourself during this period of grief?

This phase is marked by hope and setbacks. Sometimes you have the feeling that you have found a new meaning in everything, then again hope is broken and everything appears lonely and desolate. Restlessness, restlessness and emptiness are constant companions. The entire phase is characterized by processing processes. In the meantime you should try to follow your impulses. Even if they lead nowhere, the stimulation through new impressions supports the process of coping with grief.

How can you help others during this period of grief?

Accept the ups and downs of emotions. Even if it may seem incomprehensible to you, these episodes of searching and separating are healing for your loved one. Try to support you and listen, even if the new impulses seem incomprehensible to you. Since this phase of mourning can be accompanied by strong bipolarity, it is particularly important to listen carefully and seek appropriate professional help if there are indications of suicidal behavior.

4. Mourning phase: New self and world reference

In the last phase, the reorientation begins. One finally finds one's peace with the loss and accepts the new life situation. Life will no longer be the way it used to be, and most of the time this is accompanied by a change in your own view of the world. There is a shift in priorities and you gradually begin to take responsibility for your own future again. Life makes sense again and the mourner moves on, but the painful loss always as part of his new being at the side.

What can i do on my own?

Even if we seem to be doing better in this phase, it is still important to be mindful and indulgent. In the course of coping with grief, we usually come into closer contact with ourselves. We get to know each other from a completely different side, learn to pay attention to our feelings and needs and become aware of our own vulnerability. Maintain a loving approach to yourself. During the time of grief you have gained a great deal of knowledge that can now help you to find a new purpose.

How can you help others during this period of grief?

Even if it may seem as if the mourner is now completely over the loss, setbacks can still occur every now and then in difficult hours. For example, special data that are in contact with the deceased, such as annual or birthdays, are particularly sensitive. Accept the new decisions that your loved one is now making for their future life and continue to be supportive during the process of reorientation.

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Phases of mourning after Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Another widely used model is the 5-phase model by the Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Parallels can be found in both models, but there are also some differences. Kübler-Ross ‘approach states that the phases of dying and the phases of trust are basically the same.

1st phase: denial

If one receives the painful message of an imminent or an actual death, one does not want to admit it at first. This incision in your own life is so deep that you would like to resist it and therefore prefer to deny reality. Often one also thinks that it could only be a mistake.

2nd phase: the anger

In the following phase, strong feelings of anger arise. You are angry that others are allowed to go on with their normal lives while you have to endure such a great loss yourself. In this phase it can be helpful if outsiders seek conversation with the grieving person and catch the expressions of anger.

3rd phase: The negotiation

The negotiating phase is often shorter than any other phase of grief. Often, childish attempts are made to negotiate a "deal" to keep the dying person alive or bring them back to life. The attempt is made to live particularly honestly and selflessly in order to negotiate a different outcome to the tragedy. Turning to a religion is also not uncommon. Often this is an attempt to change the mind of a higher authority, which decides on life or death, and to undo what has happened or what is about to happen.

4th phase: The depression

Despair spreads in the next phase. You long for the state before the loss and everything seems to be a permanent reminder of the pain. We then believe that we will never be happy again. Even if others lead a normal life, we can no longer imagine this for ourselves. This is usually followed by a deep depression, during which one is also particularly susceptible to harmful behavior and addiction management.

5th phase: The acceptance

This is the final grief phase of the 5-phase model. Slowly the mourner finds his peace with the loss here. Often this is a gradual process that ends with acceptance. A certain emptiness remains, but we accept it as part of our life and at some point we can look ahead with confidence.