Why we need to think in terms of holistic grief healing

When you have suffered a loss, you are most likely to go through several phases in your grief work. If someone, be it a human being or a pet, has meant something to you on an emotional level, it will take time to process their loss. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross researched the grief cycle and came to the conclusion that there were five distinct stages that people go through in order to integrate a loss. They are:
Denial stage: When someone hears the news of a loved one’s death, they frequently say “no, that can’t be true”. This is denial and its function is to soften the shock of death. After a while the truth gradually sinks in.
Anger stage: This is a common part of grief. We can feel angry with the person for dying (however illogical that may seem); we can feel angry with ourselves or their caregivers (for not doing more). Some people feed their anger because it gives them energy and a feeling of power, but it is not a real power and must be surrendered in order to move on.
Bargaining stage: Once a person has expressed their anger, they get into the stage of bargaining. Just give me a little more time. If the person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, then this stage is more apparent. In fact we are bargaining with God, or whoever we believe to be in charge of the Universe. “Just let me see my children grow up, graduate, etc. and then I’ll die.” It is another form of denial but there is more awareness to it.
Depression stage: When a person comes to realize that the loved one is not coming back, or that they really are going to die, they frequently fall into depression. Nothing seems worth bothering with in the face of this catastrophic loss. People become apathetic and seemingly without feeling at this stage.
Acceptance stage: When the depression has been expressed, acceptance can come. We know that the loved one has passed and we have made our peace with it. We are free to love and form deep bonds again.

Understanding the grief cycle holistically can help you if you are going through a loss yourself or if you are supporting a friend or a family member through a loss. The real danger is to get stuck at one stage of the process, for example denial or anger. Then there is no natural conclusion to grief and unresolved emotions have negative effects on our health.

It has been shown in various studies that grief can lower the immune system. It can cause a major decrease in the body’s ability to fight infection and other major illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. Grieving individuals are also more prone to colds and contracting minor illnesses. It is thought that this comes about as a result of stress, so it’s really important for the benefit of your health to reduce your stress as much as possible. Most of the holistic natural cures for grief focus on stress reduction through exercise, meditation, talking, etc. You can also boost your immune system by taking flower essences and other supplements.


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