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October 26, 2017 Brigitte Ganger

The Five Stages of Grief: Acceptance

The "Okay" stage

The Five Stages of Grief: Acceptance
Grief is something you move on with, not from. After navigating the five stages of grief, you now have the tools to cope going forward. (Shutterstock)

Congratulations are in order

You've gone through hell. You ignored your grief, raged at it, wheeled and dealed and pouted—only to find you were still grieving. You went through several brutal rounds in each of the stages, and somehow still made it through to the other side.

From time to time, you notice rare moments of...happiness? Or something like happiness. You've reached a new sense of wholeness. Perhaps these moments still make you feel guilty, ashamed that you could enjoy life when the person you meant to share it with is gone. 

Against all odds, you started to heal. It's not the same as happiness was before the loss—and it never will be. You would still give anything to bring your loved one back, but the changes you've seen in yourself are invaluable. You wouldn't trade your life experience for anything. This is all great! 

It's not over yet

I hate to be a downer, but...it's never over yet. It's not going to be all sunshine and roses now that you've arrived at a place of acceptance. This stage can feel short-lived when it occurs. If you've recently suffered the loss of someone close to you, chances are you are about to go back through all the other stages again. Buckle up! 

The good news is that acceptance can snowball—if you continue to work hard on your grief in a healthy way. The more time you feel like you can accept what has happened, the easier it becomes to keep feeling that way. So feel that way as often as you can! But don't beat yourself up for having negative feelings. It's all part of it.

It's normal to feel disappointed in the acceptance stage as well. It may not feel good, just normal compared to other turbulent emotions that you've been through. When I made it to a point of acceptance, I remember feeling relieved to be back to normal. But it's a lackluster relief. 

You may feel older than ever. You probably feel like a worse person for the trauma you've endured. Bitterness, difficult feelings for loved ones, and even guilt that you feel better can accompany this moment. Keep your chin up. You earned it.

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