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The families and friends of the Columbia astronauts are facing their day with courageous honesty. The woe-draped merry-go-round of stages and phases enters their lives with unsettling force.

The families and friends of the Columbia astronauts are facing their day with courageous honesty. The woe-draped merry-go-round of stages and phases enters their lives with unsettling force. They're in a place they never expected to be. They're in a place where all they can do is experience the memory of their lost loved one. Before them is a long path to finding faith, balance, and peace of mind. Many of us have walked this path and many more are looking for help along the way.

Facing the day with an emotional arrow sticking out of our hearts isn't easy. Some of us struggle with it more than others. Some try to ignore it completely thinking we can somehow blot out its existence. Some of us grasp onto it earnestly battling with it until we yank it out for the wound to heal. The more we understand the dimensions of grief the better we can maneuver through the torturous arrow filled path.

The following are considered stages people may go through when grieving:

Shock: hard to except the death Numbness: our perception narrows to what is right in front of us Denial: refusal to understand how this happened Anger: a response to pain and hurt Panic: fear of the unknown 'what will happen next Physical illness: under stress the body changes Guilt: I could have 'I should have 'I wish I had Depression: can last for days, weeks, or even months 'it is always a good idea to visit your doctor Coping: weaving in the pain of the loss with everyday living Recovery: View of life opens up 'experience new energy for living

When facing a loss you may go through all of these stages. You may go through only a few as well as you may slide back and forth between several. Then again you may go through several stages at the same time. This is why grief is such a shapeless hapless mass that is hard to understand. One moment we think we're fine and the next we know we aren't. Once again the more we understand about grief the better we can take control back into our lives.

Grief is filled with heartache. To suffer heartache is to declare we are human. We must recognize our pain. While we acknowledge our pain we may find amazement in our reactions. Amazed by the intense depth of our emotions, we may feel like we're going crazy. Trying to keep this bursting avalanche of emotions in tact is frightening. At some point we have to give in to the power of grief. We have to accept the fact that we are the survivors from a loss. Survive comes from two Latin words. 'Sur' meaning beyond and 'vivo' meaning to live. We must learn to live beyond the loss of our loved one even though the adjustments are many. Survivors need help from other family members, friends, and professionals. Some people like support groups where they can exchange information and find solace.

The families of the Columbia Space Shuttle astronauts are struggling with their emotional arrows. Many of us would love to wave a magic wand with the power to make their pain go away 'but we can't. All we can do is help keep the memory of their loved ones, our heroes, alive.

Shery Russell Aughor of 'Conquering the Mysteries and Lies of Grief' The Bright Side 'Wings of Support

About the Author

Sherry is a Grief Management Specialist and author of "Conquering the Mysteries and Lies of Grief". She is presently working on her second book for children titled "The Life Adventures of Baby Boo and Zelda Lou". Sherry is on the Board of Advisors of The Bright Side 'Wings of Support. The Bright Side is a non-profit online community providing support for anyone who is coping with emotional and/or mental difficulties.


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