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Angry, Depressed, Distracted, Ungrounded...It's ok!

Hey lovely, it's ok; you're probably going through the stages of grief, and don't mistake grief as only a set of emotions that happen with the loss of a loved one.

Have you heard of the five stages of grief?

When we experience the loss of someone or something important to us, we go through a process called grief.

Loss is often more than just the passing away of a loved one.

It can also mean losing one's identity, aspirations, or parts of oneself. It's the breaking apart of what was or could have been, leaving behind an emptiness that reverberates throughout one's life.

The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' groundbreaking work "On Death and Dying" (1969) shed light on the stages of grief that can be applied to diverse forms of loss. Her insights continue to inspire compassion and understanding for those navigating the challenges of grief.

I understand that the grieving process is challenging, and it's important to know that everyone experiences it differently. Although the stages of grief can provide insight, it's essential to remember that they don't always happen in a particular order.

Please know it's okay to go through them at your own pace and revisit certain stages multiple times.

One of the least understood stages of grief is called the bargaining stage. It's an important part of the healing process, and it can be helpful to recognise and understand it. So, let's talk about navigating the bargaining stage. I believe learning and gaining a broader perspective is helpful.

Last year, I lost my Mum, and it was brutiful, a mixture of brutal and beautiful.

Choosing to remain in Sheffield, my hometown, during her final chapter meant being miles away from my other home in Nelson, New Zealand.

Three months after returning to New Zealand, the roller coaster of grief is still bumpy. Some days, I find myself on top, enjoying the view, while others plunge me back into the depths of anger and heartbreak; it's visceral.

In my desperation to feel grounded, I threw myself into daily yoga, a morning jog and afternoon and evening walks, carrying my heavy old pug Alfie so that I could get

somewhere faster, inadvertently pushing my body too far, resulting in a back injury, which, as I write, is still affecting me, forcing me to slow down. It felt amazing to escape the turmoil inside my head and the ache in my heart.

I immersed myself in a new course, in the garden and in the revitalisation of my women's group. Using these distractions as shields against the feelings of loss—the loss of so many things, not just my Mum. I felt like I had lost my support group, the strong Sheffield team, and my sense of mission and purpose in life. It was scary not to feel at home, at home!

Initially, I didn't recognise it as bargaining.

I experienced fleeting moments of depression and moments of acceptance, thinking I was navigating the stages of grief with relative clarity. However, upon reflection, I've realised that I've been dancing on the avoidance side of bargaining.

Through this blog, I aim to shed a little light on the often overlooked and misunderstood bargaining stage, offering insights gleaned from my own journey through grief. It's a testament to the complexities of healing—a journey where the lines between coping mechanisms and avoidance tactics blur and where understanding emerges from the depths of vulnerability and introspection.

Grief is a complex journey that affects everyone differently. Each stage is important, but today, we will focus on the intricate bargaining process. This stage is often misunderstood as a simple negotiation with fate but is much more complex. Bargaining can sometimes be mistaken for avoiding the harsh reality of acceptance as the human psyche grapples with the pain of loss.

When a person goes through a difficult phase in life, such as loss or trauma, it's common for them to seek certainty in work, fitness, or other activities as a way to cope with the pain and regain a sense of control over their life.

This tendency stems from the desire to bargain with their emotions, as they try to negotiate with themselves by immersing themselves in work or other activities to distract themselves from the overwhelming feelings of grief. This is me.


Some people will also minimise their pain, chin-up and all that. I found myself lying, too, saying I was okay when I wasn't because I didn't want to burden anyone, and I felt like no one got it; it felt lonely. More on that another time.

I poured myself into my studies and walking, using them as both a shield and an excuse to avoid socialising. However, as time went on, I started to feel frustrated that people weren't acknowledging the recent tragic loss I had experienced. Instead, they expected me to go out for drinks and attend concerts and parties.

It was Christmas and summertime, but I wasn't up for it. Why didn't anyone understand? I felt invalidated by others. Hence, anger and distraction.

Acknowledging the dual nature of bargaining is crucial in navigating the roller coaster ride of grief. While seeking soothing in bargaining is natural, it's equally important to recognise when it veers into avoidance territory.

As we navigate through the painful journey of grief, let us take comfort in the fact that we are not alone. Amidst the bargaining and avoidance, a glimmer of hope guides us on our path to healing. Though we may not have bought tickets for this ride, we can hold on and find solace in knowing we are not alone.

I am currently taking more time off due to my back injury. During this time, I am focusing on stillness, expressing myself truthfully, and building a better relationship with my physical, spiritual, and mental health. I am not relying on alcohol, medication, or unhealthy food to cope.

My sleep has improved, with way less sob breaths, and I approach each day with a positive attitude and gratitude for my strength to face and manage my pain. While I still have a voice that tries to rush, push, and distract me, I acknowledge and embrace it with a hug.

Grief is a profoundly personal journey, and there's no right or wrong way to navigate its twists and turns.

The five stages of grief offer a framework for understanding our emotions, but it's essential to remember that grief is not linear. We may find ourselves cycling through these stages multiple times, and that's okay. What matters most is allowing ourselves the time and space to mourn and seek support from those who care for us. In the darkness of grief, there is also the opportunity for growth, resilience, and profound connection.

It's tough dealing with loss or trauma, and everyone's emotional journey is unique. That's why the five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - can help you understand what you or someone you care about may be going through.

Remember that taking the time to heal and reach acceptance at your own pace is okay.

I am here to support you.

Grief is a natural response to loss; there are many ways to experience loss.


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