Updated: May 24, 2020
The last stage of the five stages of grief is acceptance. Acceptance is the virtue necessary to achieve the best results when recovering from a grief event. It comes from a period of battling the swings of emotions that are present during the previous stages of grief. The emotional shifts and stretching of a way of life have produced a new perspective and moved a griever into a new life. It has been a journey with many obstacles, but this stage offers relief. Acceptance; however, does not mean forgetting a loved one.
Reflecting on the way things were prior to a loss can be soothing, but the realization of finality brings one to know the time has come to recognize and tolerate a new situation. Acceptance is not without some refusal. It is not about fully recovering, defeat, or necessarily triumph. Acceptance is about acknowledgment, acquiescence, solidifying a belief system, and the successful management of feelings.
There are some circles that claim there is a “sweet sadness” in the acceptance stage of grief. This phrase is a good description because there is some sense of happiness in it. The loss of a loved one is catastrophic in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense, it allows a person to continue after death and be at peace. Our model of healing includes "responsible reflection" which allows a person to memorialize life before a tragedy. It is meant to bring some level of peace.
Acceptance re-enforces a sense of peace after the time needed to complete the other stages of grief. It allows a person to be more comfortable with a spiritual relationship with a lost loved one and look forward to a reunion with them someday.
The depth of a person’s grief is not to be discounted, and only the griever can fully appreciate their level of acceptance after a loss.
This stage acknowledges the ending of a way of life and the beginning of a new path. Acceptance, as a virtue, does not stand alone in this final stage of grief. It requires other virtues for support. It depends upon the circumstances of the loss, but other virtues such as forgiveness, magnanimity, faith, and hope are just a few of the other virtues that must be expressed to support acceptance. They provide a foundation for a new and positive life for the griever. They produce uplifting energy that counteracts any leftover negativity from loss.
The energy of acceptance and other virtues supporting it allows a person’s world to be larger. This broader world view creates progress in a person’s life. A new “zest” for living and the return of motivation marks the moment when a griever is ready to move on with their life, feeling unconstrained. Acceptance is an acknowledgment that a person has learned many lessons from an experience. These lessons will never be forgotten. They have given the griever new wisdom and tools to employ for future grief events if they are ever needed again.
John Cappello is a psychic medium who has been in practice for over 25 years. You can visit his website at www.johncappello.com for more information or to set up a private consultation.