Grief and LossThe holidays can be a very festive time to connect with family and friends as well as take time to express gratitude for all our blessings.

The holidays can also be filled with love, joy and laughter.

However, for many, the holidays can be filled with stress, anxiety, sadness, and the feeling of not being good enough.

Many are reminded of the family and friends they have lost throughout the past year.

Every year, even more people are reminded of a lost close friend or family member.

The most common feeling of loss during the holidays is the loss of a loved one due to death.

There are, however, many types of losses.

There is the loss of a dream, a goal unachieved, a missed opportunity, a pet, a child, a spouse, a parent, a marriage, a relationship, or an accident that is nobody’s fault.

Some may experience a loss of self, or health due to an injury.

There is also the loss of how life was “supposed to be.”

Some may experience the loss of a home, lifestyle, status, title, business, finances or freedoms.

Others may experience the loss of a relationship due to drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, or an affair.

There are different models for the stages of grief; but generally, they are:

1. Shock

“What!?” “Excuse me!” “How can this be true?” “I worked to hard to fail.” “They can’t fire me!” “I can’t have cancer.”

2. Denial

“This cannot be true.” “I can’t believe this is happening.” “I do not believe this is happening.” “I refuse to accept this.” “There must be some mistake.” “They are wrong about me.”

3. Anger

“I hate this.”  “I am so angry at them.” “I am so angry with God.” “I hate myself.” “I am a failure.” “I will sue them for this.

4. Bargaining

“If only I would have ______, then ______.” “If only they would have ______.”  “God, if you do _____, I will do _______.” “Let me take their place.” “If only I tried harder.” “If I replay this in my head one more time, I can beat this.”

5. Sadness/Depression

“What is the point of living?”  “How will I survive without ________?” “There is nothing else to live for.”

6. Acceptance

“They are gone.” “I loved them, and they loved me.” “They will be deeply missed.” “I want to honor them by turning my life around.”  “I want to make a difference.”

7. Helping Others by Sharing your Story

“I want to help others by sharing my story and experience.” “I do not want my pain to be wasted.”  “I have a lot to offer others.”

A journey through these stages can take days, weeks, months, years or even decades.

Some people recover very quickly from a loss; however, others can be stuck in anyone of these stages for decades.

I wish I could tell you that most often a journey through these stages of grief and loss is linear moving from 1 through 7 nice and neat. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many.

LabyrinthFor most, it is more like a maze or a labyrinth of emotions, successes and failures.

What worked one day may not work the next, because the labyrinth has changed.

Many get stuck in the valley of bargaining and then in the pit of sadness and depression that can last for years.

It can become an isolated place of insanity.

They may go back to denial before getting to acceptance.

Joy seems forever lost.

Each new day is just another funeral.

In the labyrinth, the pain can become so great that many seek painkillers to survive.

This is where prescription drugs, controlled substances, alcohol, sex, pornography, shopping, eating, and sleeping are discovered or rediscovered.

These painkillers that were meant to help them cope can become vices and addictions that may prolong the possibility of successfully exiting the labyrinth.

Everyone’s journey is unique and different.

Generally, all 6 stages of grief and loss will have to be successfully completed and resolved before possessing the ability to help others.

Know that you are not alone!

There are support groups, friends, family, and professionals who have walked this journey before you and can help.

All you have to do is ask for help.

Take the first step today.

You are worth it!

Cory Schortzman, Executive Director

Cory Schortzman, Executive Director

Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.

Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.

Kerry’s books include: Ashes to Beauty the Book and Ashes to Beauty the Workbook

Co-authored books include: 101 Blogs to Transform your Life, Volume I and Offended Deceived Addicted