The next circle in the model represents the ALIVE stage, in which the heartache and soul pain experienced so intensely in the Survive stage is transitioning to provide you with the emotional elbow room to start processing your loss.
Although life oftentimes requires we reengage far before we feel emotionally ready, we are emerging from the survival experience and trying to cope with life’s demands. At some point in this stage, you can begin to understand and address your grief while dealing with the responsibilities and obligations of the outside world. Psychologists refer to this stage asintegrated grief, and it will likely come slowly and gradually. There is not a fixed time frame for your grief process to evolve from the Survive to Alive stages, and you should not feel pressure to meet an arbitrary deadline.
In fact, the integrated circles of the Survive-Alive-Thrive model serve to illustrate that you may coexist in each season for a period of time or have feelings associated with the Survive stage one day and the Alive stage on another, as your grief transitions from one season to the next.
The ALIVE stage doesn’t mean your emotional pain is gone or healed; rather, it is a time when you are resuming activities such as returning to work, church, or school and generally getting back into the routines of life while simultaneously working through the emotional challenges you’ve experienced from loss.
It’s important to note that this transition does not mean you are attempting to forget the person you have lost or that you’re ignoring whatever traumatic event has happened. Whether you’ve suffered the death of a loved one or your life has been turned upside down by a financial catastrophe, medical setback, or the end of a relationship, balancing and reintegrating life responsibilities is emotionally exhausting, stressful, and demanding. Either way, the solution is certainly not putting on a fake happy face and pretending everything’s all right. We are acutely aware that everything is the same and that our life has, indeed, changed. Here, then, is the season of our grief process when we are actively caring for and intentionally tending to our emotional, mental, and physical health while also figuring out our place in this strange new world.