Q. Isn't grief something you just have to get over?
A. No. You can’t go around it; you can’t go under it; you can’t go over it. You have to go through
it. When someone suffers a loss, they must go through the process of grieving. Noted grief
expert Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identifies the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining,
depression and acceptance. Those who respect the process of grief get through it and come out
healthier than those who feel they have to just get over their loss and move on. Some people
facing a complicated grief process benefit from therapeutic interventions.
Q. Is it really necessary to process the five stages of grief? I don’t have time to wallow.
A. When people are grieving, it’s healthy to feel sad and to miss the person while also working
to accept the loss and let go of the pain. Some grief is more complex because, when the person
was alive, the relationship was difficult and ambivalent. When someone with whom the
survivor had a fraught relationship dies, the surviving person, if they’ve not had therapy and
come to a place of acceptance, may find it challenging to deal with unresolved relationship
issues. With the person gone, they have to process that on their own.
Q. I am going to a support group. Do I need individual therapy?
A. In many cases, support alone can work and in other cases, some people need something
more intensive. If they feel they’re monopolizing the support group or their friends are urging
them to get help, those can be signs that the grieving person could benefit from individual
Q. Does untreated grief put a person at risk for developing depression?
A. Yes, it can be a gateway to other problems.