Grief can appear in many different, strange, and abrupt ways when least expecting it. You could be going through your day feeling fine when suddenly, BAM! Grief has stricken. Depending on where you are within the healing process of your loss, you could be experiencing different stages of grief. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist and author widely known for her work on the stages of grief and the process of dying. Her groundbreaking book “On Death and Dying,” published in 1969, introduced the world to the now-famous concept of the “Five Stages of Grief.”
These stages are not meant to be a strict linear progression but rather a framework to understand the emotional and psychological responses individuals may go through when dealing with a terminal illness or loss.
Below, we go in-depth into the five stages of grief.
In this initial stage, individuals often struggle to accept the reality of the situation. They may feel shock, numbness, and disbelief, attempting to reject the truth to protect themselves from overwhelming emotions.
As the reality of the situation sets in, people may experience anger. This anger can be directed at themselves, others, or the situation. It’s a natural response to the helplessness and frustration that often accompany loss.
In this stage, individuals may try to make deals or bargains with a higher power, hoping that they can change the outcome by doing so. Guilt is a standard part of the bargaining stage as people think about what they could have done differently. It’s a way of attempting to regain a sense of control and influence over the situation.
As the weight of the loss becomes more pronounced, feelings of sadness, regret, and deep sorrow can set in. Crying frequently, neglecting personal care, losing interest in your usual activities, and questioning one’s purpose may occur. The depression stage is characterized by a sense of hopelessness and a profound realization of the extent of the loss.
In the final stage, individuals come to terms with the reality of the situation. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy or content, but they find a way to integrate the loss into their lives and move forward. It’s important to note that acceptance doesn’t mean forgetting or no longer feeling pain; it’s about finding a way to live with the loss.
It’s essential to recognize that not everyone will experience these stages similarly or in the same order. Grief is a profoundly personal and individual experience, and people may move through the stages at different paces or even revisit certain stages multiple times.
Additionally, different cultures and individuals may have unique ways of coping with loss that may not fit neatly into this framework.
If you are experiencing grief and need help processing the emotions, contact our team of qualified therapists. We would be more than happy to help!