This blog post is a continuation of a previous Udall Shumway posting entitled “The Grief Cycle, Stage Four: Depression”, discussing the way individuals grieve when coping with a difficult experience.

Stage Five:  Acceptance

An important distinction must be made between acceptance and healing. There are many who navigate the grieving process, but fail to do so fully and completely, leaving them less than healed.

To explain with more clarity, acceptance is simply the last stage of the grieving process, where one who has endured a difficult death or loss begins to re-acclimate to normalcy and everyday living. Acceptance is what occurs as individuals have moved back and forth through the previously discussed stages, and are now initiate the rest of their lives more naturally.

One of the unfortunate truths regarding grieving is that not everyone who experience these devastating trials find peace and healing during the weeks and months following the event. Perhaps the strongest determinant of whether an individual finds true healing is how fully they open themselves to the entire experience, specifically the pain.

Most of us know someone who never fully coped from a traumatic experience earlier in their lives, and had to endure related pain either for many years, or had some kind of awakening experience that brought them back to the fact that their past grief had not truly been resolved. For those who are navigating grief, or are close to someone who is, encourage them to fully open to the ramifications and pain of the experience.

Although this is certainly difficult advice to administer, a difficult but full grieving is far preferred to letting an unresolved loss define and derail a person’s life for many years to come.