The 5 Stages of Grief is a theory developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. It suggests that we go through five distinct stages after the loss of a loved one. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
With the help of this article, we’ll explore each stage of grief and how they affect our lives.
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What is Grief?
Grief is an emotional response to loss that occurs when someone close dies. It can happen in many different ways, and people experience grief differently. The first step in dealing with grief is acknowledging that you’re sad. It’s normal for people to experience different stages of grief in reaction to loss. Understanding these stages will help you cope better with your grief.
The Stages of Grief
Denial is the first stage of grief. People who are grieving often deny that something has happened. They might say things like “it didn’t happen,” “I’m not sad,” or “I’m fine.” This denial helps them avoid thinking about what has happened.
During this stage in grieving, our reality has shifted completely. It can take our minds time to adjust to our new reality. We reflect on the experiences we’ve shared with the person we lost, and we might find ourselves wondering how to move forward in life without this person.
This is a lot of information to explore and a lot of painful imagery to process. Denial attempts to slow this process down and take us through it one step at a time, rather than risk the potential of feeling overwhelmed by our emotions.
Denial is not only an attempt to pretend that the loss does not exist. We are also trying to absorb and understand what is happening.
After denial comes anger. Anger is an emotion that occurs when people feel hurt, frustrated, or angry. It’s normal to feel these emotions after losing someone close to us. However, some people may express their anger inappropriately. If you’re feeling angry, try to control yourself before acting out.
In this second stage, we are trying to adjust to a new reality and are likely experiencing extreme emotional discomfort. There is so much to process that anger may feel like it allows us an emotional outlet.
Keep in mind that anger does not require us to be very vulnerable. However, it may feel more socially acceptable than admitting we are scared. Anger allows us to express emotion with less fear of judgment or rejection.
Anger also tends to be the first thing we feel when starting to release emotions related to loss. This can leave us feeling isolated in our experience. It can also cause us to be perceived as unapproachable by others in moments when we could benefit from comfort, connection, and reassurance.
Next comes bargaining. This is where people try to make things better by changing something about the situation. They might ask themselves questions like “What would I do differently?” or “Why did this happen?”
When coping with loss, it isn’t unusual to feel so desperate that you are willing to do anything to alleviate or minimize the pain. During this stage in grieving, you may try to bargain to change the situation, agreeing to do something in return for being relieved of the pain you feel.
When bargaining starts to take place, we often direct our requests to a higher power, or something bigger than us that may be able to influence a different outcome. Bargaining during the grieving process can come in the form of a variety of promises, including:
- “God, if you can heal this person, I will turn my life around.”
- “I promise to be better if you will let this person live.”
- “I’ll never get angry again if you can stop him/her from dying or leaving me.”
There is an acute awareness of our humanness in this stage of grieving; when we realize that there is nothing we can do to influence change or create a better result.
Bargaining comes from a feeling of helplessness and gives us a perceived sense of control over something that feels so out of control. During bargaining, we tend to focus on our faults or regrets. We might look back at our interactions with the person we are losing and note all the times we felt disconnected or may have caused them pain.
It is common to recall times when we may have said things we did not mean and wish we could go back and behave differently. We also sometimes make the drastic assumption that if things had played out differently, we would not be in such an emotionally painful place in our lives.
During our experience of processing grief, there comes a time when our imaginations calm down, and we slowly start to look at the reality of our present situation. Bargaining no longer feels like an option, and we are faced with what is happening.
In this stage of grieving, we start to feel the loss of our loved one more abundantly. Our panic begins to subside, the emotional fog begins to clear, and the loss feels more present and unavoidable.
In those moments, we tend to pull inward as the sadness grows. We might find ourselves retreating, being less sociable, and reaching out less to others about what we are going through. Although this is a very natural stage in the grieving process, dealing with depression after the loss of a loved one can be extremely isolating.
Note: If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our Contact Info or check the National Helpline Database.
The last of the 5 Stages of Grief is acceptance. When we come to a place of acceptance, it is not that we no longer feel the pain of loss. Instead, we are no longer resisting the reality of our situation, and we are not struggling to make it something different.
Sadness and regret can still be present in this phase. But the emotional survival tactics of denial, bargaining, and anger are less likely to be present during this phase of the grieving process.
Grief Stages: How Long Do They Last?
There is no specific period for any of these stages. One person may experience the stages quickly, such as in a matter of weeks, whereas another person may take months or even years to move through the stages of grieving. Whatever time it takes for you to move through these stages is perfectly normal.
As we consider the 5 Stages of Grief, it is important to note that people grieve differently. So, you may or may not go through each of these stages or experience them in order. The lines of the grieving process stages are often blurred. We may also move from one stage to another and possibly back again before fully moving into a new stage.
Your pain is unique to you, your relationship with the person you lost is unique, and the emotional processing can feel different to each person. Take the time you need and remove any expectations of how you should be performing as you work through the grieving process.
Additional stages of Grief
7 Steps to Grieving Your Loss
Shock and denial.
Whether a loss occurs suddenly or with some advanced notice, it’s possible to experience shock. You feel emotionally numb and may deny the loss.
Pain and guilt.
During this stage of grieving, the pain of the loss starts to set in. You may also feel guilty for needing more from family and friends during this emotional time.
Anger and bargaining.
You may lash out at people you love or become angry with yourself. Or you might try to “strike a bargain” with a higher power, asking that the loss be taken away in exchange for something on your part.
Depression and loneliness.
As you reflect on your loss, you may start to feel depressed or lonely. It is in this stage in grieving that you begin to truly realize the reality of your loss.
The upward turn.
You begin to adjust to your new life, and the intensity of the pain you feel from the loss starts to reduce. At this point in the grieving process, you may notice that you feel calmer.
Reconstruction and working through.
This stage in grieving involves taking action to move forward. You begin to reconstruct your new normal, working through any issues created by the loss.
Acceptance and hope.
In this final stage of the grieving process, you begin to accept the loss and feel hope for what tomorrow might bring. It’s not that all your other feelings are gone, just more so that you’ve accepted them and are ready to move on.
How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving?
We’ve compiled a list of helpful resources to assist you in supporting someone who has lost a loved one. Read on to discover more about these tools and services.
When we lose someone close to us, our grief can feel overwhelming. It’s normal to experience sadness, anger, fear, guilt, and other feelings that come along with this loss. But there are also many things you can do to support someone who is grieving.
Step #1: Understand the Grieving Process
Refer to The Grief Recovery Guidebook by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. This book was written by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an American psychiatrist who studied death and dying. She developed the five stages of grief as a model for understanding how people process loss. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Step #2: If you’re looking for ways to help someone who’s grieving, there are several things you can do.
- Try not to take anything personally. It’s natural to feel angry when someone close to you dies, but it’s also normal to grieve differently at different times.
- Listen carefully. People often say things they don’t mean because they’re upset.
- Offer support. Be a friend who is just there for them, or you might simply sit with them quietly while they talk. You also can show compassion by offering to help with chores, errands, etc.
- Let them cry. Crying helps release emotions and can lead to healing.
- Permit yourself to feel sad too.
- Listen without judgment. Just listen to them, don’t ask questions, don’t judge their actions or reactions, don’t take anything personally, just be there when they need it, and give them space when they need their space.
- Avoid talking about death. Death is a difficult subject to discuss, so keep conversations light and upbeat.
- Give them space. Don’t pressure them into doing anything right away. Give them time to grieve.
Resources for People in Stages of Grieving
Several organizations provide information or assistance for people going through the grieving process. Regardless of where you are in the stages of grieving, you may find help via entities such as:
- AARP, for articles on grief and loss
- Grief.com, which covers all types of grief, also provides grief workshops and access to free resources
- HOPE for the Bereaved, for anyone who has experienced loss through death
- Hospice Foundation of America, grief support before, during, and after a loved one’s death
- optionsB, for people who want to bounce back after a painful experience
- The Compassionate Friends, help people who’ve lost a child
About the mind or mental phenomena as the subject matter of psychology. of, about, dealing with, or affecting the mind, especially as a function of awareness, feeling, or motivation: psychological play; psychological effect.
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What are the 7 stages of grief after a death?
The 7 stages of grief
- Acceptance and hope.
- Processing grief.
Grieving VS Depression
When you lose someone or something dear to you, it’s natural to feel pain and grief. The grief process is normal, and most people go through it. But when grief takes over your life, and you begin to feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless, then it’s time to talk to your doctor about telling the difference between normal grief and depression.
- Intense sorrow, pain, and rumination over the loss of your loved one.
- Focus on little else but your loved one’s death.
- Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders.
- Intense and persistent longing or pining for the deceased.
- Problems accepting death.
- Numbness or detachment.
The stages of the grieving process/ Stages grieving process
The 7 stages of grief are as follows:
- Acceptance and hope.
- Processing grief.
Stages of grieving pdf
Stages of grieving a breakup/ Stages of grieving divorce/ 4 stages of grieving/ Steps to grieving a death/ Stages of grieving by Kübler Ross/ Stages of grieving relationship/ Steps to grieving a relationship
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