Stage 3: Bargaining or Negotiation – this is in the grieving process that often leaves you feeling helpless, hopeless, and highly vulnerable. Frequently, you try to find ways to regain control in your life or feel like you can control the outcome of your stroke. You may be stretching with items or events that others should have or could have done to prevent the stroke from occurring. 

Also, this stage is the way to continue to grasp those strands of hope while being buried beneath unbearable emotional pain. When confronted with this shaky reality, you believe that you are willing to do anything and everything to restore life to what it was before the loss.

Grieving Deeply

When you are in the bargaining stage, often you make many “what if” or “if only” situations or statements. What could have been done differently to avoid this devastating loss? What would it take for everything to return to normal?

You may try to make an agreement, deal, or promise to a higher power in return for some relief or healing from the pain and grief you are feeling.

And once you go down this path, it is a domino effect into guilt. You subconsciously struggle to regain control by taking responsibility, even at your own expense.

These thoughts and emotions are average. And as painful as they are to experience and endure, they are therapeutic because they help you face the reality of the loss.

When you feel vulnerable and desperate, the bargaining stage acts as a line of defense. It works to postpone confusion, sadness, and suffering because you are not ready for these feelings. Not yet!

Stage 4: Depression – or deep sadness grips you. Depression is the sensation of the heartbreak and emptiness you feel when navigating reality and starting to grasp that your former self is gone forever. You might withdraw from life, feel numb, live in a fog, or not want to get out of bed in the morning to tackle life. It seems too overwhelming. You may isolate for some time to work through and cope with your loss before the stroke.

Please know that it is difficult to muster the strength to face another day in the world. There is no interest in being around others or talking to anyone. Sometimes, you have only feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. You wonder, “What’s the point of going on?” Suicidal thoughts may even accompany depression. If these feelings take hold of you, seek a professional.

Most people deem depression as a simple statement of grief. When confronting a debilitating loss, depression is not a symptom of a mental health condition. Instead, it is a natural and appropriate response to grief.

Whereas your anger and bargaining stages feel very active, depression can feel like a quieter stage of grief. In the starting stages of grief, you may feel you are running away from your emotions or trying to get ahead of them.

At this stage in the process, you can work through these emotions more healthily. Like the other stages in the grieving process, it is not an easy step. Depression following a stroke can be messy, overwhelming, confusing, or heavy. This stage is the usual way of your grieving process. AGAIN – If you are stuck in this stage, seek professional help!

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