A loss is a loss. It can be short term, or it can be long term. Regardless of the nature of the loss, it involves the process of grief.
Grief consists of the thoughts and feelings we have when someone we love dies. It’s the meaning that is behind our pain. It can also be the grief we feel when a loss might be coming soon.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross identified several stages of grief.
- Denial—“This is not happening” or “This can’t be true.”
- Anger—At times, clients might direct this anger towards you—because it can be too big of a feeling for them.
- Bargaining—“If only I had done this…” It’s a normal part of the process, but many times nothing else could have been done.
- Depression—No one wants to feel depressed, but it’s part of the healing process. It’s okay to feel it and honor it.
- Acceptance—This is coming to peace and terms with the loss. “I’m so grateful for the times I had with and the memories of…”
The stages of grief do not follow any particular order and one can move in and out of them. We can help our clients by understanding what stage of grief they might be in.
Michael Hawkins, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH). With almost 25 years of experience as a counselor, he works with clinicians, students, staff, and clients—compassionately attending to the human needs that arise in the practice of veterinary medicine. Counselor’s Corner is a blog devoted to that purpose. BACK TO BLOG