How To Function When You Lose More Than One Person In A Short Period Of Time

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When someone you love dies, it will be rough for a while.

Every time someone close to you dies, you grieve every other person who has died in your lifetime. When you have several deaths in close proximity, your grief process will be more challenging. 

When grieving more than one person at once, you must take good care of yourself. No matter how hard it is, you must mourn each person's death, and you need to go through all seven stages of grief with each person.

It is not only grief from the death of a loved one. It could come from an end to the marriage, a health crisis, being fired from your job or any traumatic event.

Cumulative grief makes the loss more intense. It's important to know how to process it.

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Grief is a process

No one goes through grief precisely in the same way. Allow yourself to feel your pain, sadness, and at the same time, the joy of having known that person.

If you ever feel stuck during your grief, find a friend, family member or professional to help you. There is no shame if you need to seek out help.

When facing cumulative grief, getting help may become necessary.

Over your lifetime, you will experience grieving many times. It is never easy, but it takes you to a deeper place in your inner life.

It helps you share gratitude for the gift of life.

It calls upon you to live each day fully, as you never know how long you have to live.

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Seek help when you need it

When you face cumulative grief, you will get through it easier if you intentionally do your grief work for each loss. Don't be afraid of getting help if you feel it is too much for you.

You were never meant to do life alone.

Find a friend or professional to help you, whether a religious leader, counselor or coach.

This might be especially true for unexpected or especially tragic deaths.

Depending on how that person died and the age they died may bring up anger for you. You might be angry at the person for dying and abandoning you at a young age.

You might be mad they had an addiction and died young because of the damage it did to their body.

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The comfort of religion

You might be angry at God. You might have been raised in a strict religious home and told never to doubt God.

But God is much bigger and more loving than any human could imagine. Know that God can deal with your anger. God will have compassion for you.

You might be angry at the person who died because of the way they treated you through life. Maybe they abused you emotionally and physically.

The more stress and trauma you experienced with the deceased person will complicate your grief. 

Cumulative grief can make the anger more intense.

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Recognize and manage the complications

You then add complications if you do not process your grief before you experience another loss. 

Every time there is the death of a loved one, it changes your life forever. No one can ever take away your life experience with the person; the relationship changed you forever. You can never go back to how things were before the person died.

If you try to block the pain and discomfort that comes with the grief, you are just holding back the pain. The more you try to avoid the pain and sadness, the more it will impact your physical health.

The more deaths you have in a short time, the more difficult it will become for you to say goodbye to the people you love, and the more difficult it will be for you to move on if you don't intentionally allow yourself to grieve. If you don't work through your cumulative grief can make it difficult for you to move on in life.

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The roller coaster ride

Grieving means you are going to feel many different emotions. One minute you will be crying, the next laughing and maybe the next angry and depressed.

The more you can permit yourself to feel all these emotions, the easier it will be to move through the grief process. 

Going on the journey

Reflecting on the seven stages will help you to notice where you are in the process. It will remind you that you are on a journey.

As I said before you, all of us grieve differently. We don't necessarily grieve in the order of the seven stages of grief.

Most professionals say it takes at least one year and often longer, depending on how close you are to the person — longer when dealing with cumulative grief.

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Here are the 7 stages of grief

1. Shock and denial

Denial is essential to the grief process because it gives you space to acknowledge and accept what happened.

2. Pain and guilt

Stage two is the time for tears and moodiness. It feels like your life is falling apart. You wonder if you are somehow responsible for this person's demise.

3. Anger and bargaining

You are likely angry with someone, whether that be the person who died, yourself or God. At this stage, find a way to let go of your anger by using the energy constructively.

4. Depression, reflection, loneliness

At this stage, you will move through a time of depression. It is normal to feel lonely if you have spent years living with this person. It is a shock to the system when you cannot come home and share your day with your loved one.

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5. The upward turn

Finally, your grief begins to fade away. This transition is often subtle. You wake up one morning and realize the suffering is not so intense.

6. Reconstruction and working through

You begin to feel a sense of control back in your life.

7. Acceptance

At stage seven, you acknowledge the loss and feel ready to move on with your life. It is also accepting that your life has changed, and you can never return to how life was before the person died.

RELATED: How To Cope With Grief When You've Suffered From A Devastating Loss

How the Enneagram helps you process intense emotion

The Enneagram is a fantastic tool to help you stay present in your experience; this can be hard when grieving.

The Enneagram symbol dates back to the desert fathers. It reveals to you a path where you learn to live beyond the limitations of the ego.

It tells where you may get stuck and shows you a way toward liberation.

Learning the Enneagram will help you to move more openly and freely through the grief process. You hurt yourself the most when you resist the pain, anger and discomfort of acknowledging the death of someone you loved.

The Enneagram can help you move beyond the resistance blocking you.

It will help you to navigate through your cumulative grief.

The good news is that light is always at the end of the tunnel. Life will look and feel different, but you will find the joy, hope and love to keep living.

RELATED: How To Recognize And Overcome Your Grief Triggers In 5 Steps

Roland Legge is a Certified Spiritual Life Coach and minister. He shares his coaching expertise in his coaching sessions and e-book to help his clients find freedom from habits that no longer serve them. 

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