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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: It's been four months since my lifelong best friend was tragically killed in a car accident. I'm extremely depressed and grieving. My work, personal and love lives are all suffering.
I've started therapy, but haven't made much progress over my grief. I feel somehow that my life stopped when my buddy passed. I'd love some tips on how to accept and move on. Thanks.
A: I can't properly express how sorry I am for your loss. To have someone that special to you pass away so unexpectedly is not only traumatic, it is heartbreaking.
One of the greatest risks in loving someone deeply is that we may eventually lose that person. Your grief and love are both intrinsically linked and expected.
I believe strongly in the five stages of grief model, developed by the Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
This model was influenced by clinicians who worked with terminally ill patients. However, it has proven to be applicable for many aspects of grief, including those clients processing the loss of a loved one.
It consists of the following stages:
Denial: Tragic events are often so shocking and difficult to accept that a person's default position is denial. They may deny the influence a loss has had on them, or even the fact that the event happened at all. This is an obvious defense mechanism but is usually quite temporary.
Anger: When something can't be properly explained, the tendency is to be of the opinion that this isn't fair and someone else must pay. Grief-stricken individuals are very often haunted by their extreme pain and unexpressed rage.
As anger needs to be placed somewhere, those who've recently lost a loved one frequently lash out at others or blame and even harm themselves. Anger can feel very difficult to handle, but some degree of it is usually very necessary and helpful in the healing process. It makes the loss a reality.
Bargaining: Grieving people often try to cut a deal with "God" or "the powers that be within their given religion." Losing a loved one has been found to evoke or create a greater religious/spiritual fervor in a grieving individual. "I'll do anything to have this not have happened" or "I'll do anything to bring my loved one back." Invoking a religious/higher "force" or "being" can be momentarily healing for the living person, as it can sometimes provide a balm or "answer."