The Steps to Processing Loss: Disbelief, Grief, Acceptance, Joy

Processing Loss: Its Disbelief, Grief, Acceptance, Joy

The following is from my personal experience…

Part I:   Disbelief 

The shock. The shock in being told that I will not be sharing with my beloved, face to face, on the physical plane, any longer. My body feels numb. It is as if I am no longer at home in my body. I feel detached from comfort in my life. I feel an aversion for food -- on the one hand I feel hungry, but the thought of passing food into my mouth is impossible. My bodily functioning is mightily disturbed. I can not believe what has happened.

If I detach myself from my feelings, I think that I will be able to function okay at work. At home, I will be able to go about my ordinary routine and no one will know of my wrenching emotional loss. As I relive these feelings while writing out these sentences, I am again experiencing the disbelief. My sentences are short and choppy, reflecting how I felt at the time -- out of harmony, out of the flow of life -- beached, isolated on a sandbar in the river of time.

Is this really happening? Can I live through this? Will I ever again be comfortable in my own body? It is just not possible that this is happening to me.

I can no longer hold in my feelings. Yes, it is true that my loved one is gone from me, forever. I can't hold in my feelings any longer…

Part II:   Grief

The tears are flowing, unbidden… I cry into my pillow at bedtime and again in the morning. The tears well up and overflow when I am alone in my room. And as I can not stop them I let them have their day. In grieving, my body relaxes, washes out my pent-up feelings and tensions. After a crying session I can again go on with my day.

The grieving sessions are coming less often. My emotions are still high and I so miss my dearly beloved -- I think about all that we did together that can not be repeated. I ask myself why this happened -- I want to spend more time together.

Part III:   Acceptance

My new reality has sunk in. Hook, line and sinker -- sunk in. I know we will not being seeing each other again on this physical plane. And now I reminisce. I remember our fun times and all the love-making we shared.

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I wake up and sometimes my first thought is not of my beloved. I wake up with energy and the drive to go on and begin an active day. I think about what I will do that day -- at work and for fun.

Life does go on. Different than before, but still I am marching on through my days and sleeping peacefully at night.

Part IV:   Joy

One morning upon awakening I go out for my usual walk -- but today the birds are singing; the air is showing a promise that warmth will follow; the fruit trees alongside the roadway are showering me with tiny blossoms, which carried on the gentle breeze, caress my face -- I feel joy in my heart, and energy in my step. I feel invigorated and happy. I can say that I feel joy once again!

In summary: I have recounted the process of my own loss. Healing can come after loss -- that I now know. And I also discovered that more than healing comes -- joy resurfaces, again.

And the joy resurfaced is actually a richer experience than before. I feel an intimate connection with my beloved once again. And I know now, for sure, that time, place, dimension, and space do not have an effect on the presence of love.

I Feel Love, And I Feel Loved

My body is energized and feels warm. I look forward to the day's activities and am productive at work. I enjoy the rest of my family. I appreciate my time with my family. I am more appreciative of my time with my loved ones. And I live as if today were my last day in this physical body.

That joy can again resurface -- as an enriched experience -- was such a surprise to me. I think that because I lived with positive attitudes before my loss that I had set in motion the predictability of a positive outlook after my loss. It seems that as humans, we have the capacity to even benefit from loss. Through knowing first hand what loss feels like, and how we experience it mentally, we can empathize with another's loss.

I found that human love is really transcendent. Enlivening me before my loss and even though my beloved is gone, I am still enlivened -- energized -- by love's transcendent presence. 

©1999. Susan Kramer

Related book:

Getting to the Other Side of Grief - Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse
by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge.

Getting to the Other Side of Grief by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge.This sensitive and biblically oriented book offers a roadmap for bereaved spouses on the journey through grief to resolution. Excellent for pastors, too.

Info/Order this book 

About The Author

Susan Kramer

Born and raised alongside the Chesapeake Bay, Susan Kramer pursued a career as a classical ballet dancer and taught academics through kinesiology during the 1960s; concurrently studying drawing and design and becoming an abstract color constructionist in the 1970s. From the early 1980s to the present, Susan has written over 500 articles, essays, and commentaries on spirituality and consciousness in a combination of verse and prose form -- many translated into the German language. More writings can be found at her website:

Kindle Book by Susan Kramer



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