A New Way To Think About Denial During Grief

Grief feels like a heavy word to say, let alone experience. It can be brought on by many events in life but when you’re faced with grieving pregnancy or infant loss, it can seem especially intense. Knowing something about the process grieving can help you through the experience of it, especially during a time when you feel completely out of control.

There are five stages of the grieving process that you’ll likely pass through as you begin to heal and move forward. In the very beginning, the first stage starts with denial.

That can’t be true.

This can’t be happening.

I don’t believe it. 

These are some of the common thoughts that come up when trying to process something tragic. Many people describe feeling shock or numbness from these thoughts, which can be difficult emotions to process, too. That is okay. It is not meant to be easy. This is real life stuff and you’re in the thick of it in that moment.

The biggest mistake would be to ignore these feelings and not acknowledge them at all. Shock or numbness are part of the real human experience you are having in that moment. They are vibrations in your body caused by thoughts in your mind. To deny yourself the opportunity to feel them means you are avoiding the experience entirely. An act of resistance like that will not help you move forward through your grief.

Rather than ignore them I encourage you to lean into experiencing them. Why? Because denial happens in your mind, no where else. Identifying that one minute something is one way, and the next it is something different is a shift your brain has to make. During grief, the stage of denial helps you begin to wrap your mind around what has happened. You’ll question everything. This is good! These questions will be your road map for processing your grief.

If you are in that stage of grief right now, I encourage you to write down every question that comes up (most of these will likely begin with “Why….?”). The questions that arise will help move you forward in the healing process. Challenge yourself to answer every single one of them. In doing so, you’ll see what story your brain is creating about the situation. The story you are telling yourself is shaping the entire experience of grief for you. That is powerful to know because then you know you can choose what kind of experience it will be.

It would be very easy to run from your grief if you wanted to. I encourage you to pay attention, get curious and identify the questions your brain wants answers to. It is normal and it is necessary to have questions that help you mentally process what you are going through. If you need any help with that, set up some time with me to be coached through it for free.