Many people have heard of the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — and can relate to at least some of the feelings. However, not everyone is completely aware of what they are feeling and not everyone goes through all five stages. Additionally, the five stages normalize the grief process and offers comfort to those who are hurting, but does not offer a solution on how to process the grief or move on with life after losing a loved one. Conversely, William Worden’s four tasks of mourning model offers tasks one can complete to process grief and move on with life in a healthy way.

Task 1. Accept the reality of the loss.

Even if a death was anticipated, accepting that a loved one is gone can be difficult to do. A person does not necessarily have to be in denial, but realizing that they will never see or speak to their loved one again can take some time to come to terms with and realize as truth. Some people benefit from gaining closure, such as viewing the body at a memorial or visiting the grave can help.

Task 2. Process the grief and pain.

There is no one prescribed way to process grief, but it is important to feel the pain to process the grief rather than choking it down and pretending to be fine. Healthy ways to process grief include talking to other loved ones, crying, or doing something to memorialize the person who is now gone. Ineffecitve and unhealthy coping mechanisms include searching for the whys or avoiding the emotions.

Task 3. Adjust to your loved one being gone.

It is important to remember that this task does not mean moving on or living as though the deceased did not matter. This task is accomplished by finding a way to manage without your loved one. This can be as simple as returning to work after processing the grief, and for others, it could mean removing personal items of the deceased. Establishing a new normal without your loved one in the world is important to overcoming grief and finding closure.

Task 4. Find a connection while living your life.

The last task is to find a way to live your life while maintaining an emotional connection to your deceased loved one. Living your life is the key to this task, which may take months or years to accomplish, but is important to prevent the loss of two lives — theirs and yours.

Grief is felt and processed differently by everyone. When a loved one dies, it is important to feel the pain and grief and appropriately process it to move on in healthy ways. Loss is hard and processing the grief may be difficult to do on your own. For support and tips for coping, never hesitate to contact a professional grief counselor. If you are looking for a grief counselor in Loveland, trust Dr. Beth Firestein who has more than 25 years experience in helping people process their grief. Call to schedule your appointment today.