What Are The Stages Of Grief?
The five stages of grief framework, originally coined in the 1960s by an American-Swiss psychiatrist by the name of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, identifies five core phases of emotion felt by an individual experiencing grief. Since then, the stages have been expanded into the seven stages of grief.
These grieving stages can be applied to grief of any kind, including loss of a loved one, as well as break-ups, divorce, or drastic life changes.
7 Stages Of Grief
1. Shock and denial
This stage comes directly after learning of loss. Often seen as a self-defense stage, it occurs to help you cope with the difficulties of loss.
During this stage you might feel sadness, confusion, or discomfort.
2. Pain and guilt
The realization of loss can leave feelings of emptiness and pain. People may feel guilty for being relieved that a loved one isn’t in pain or that they didn’t have more time. Others may regret their actions towards a loved one or ways they feel they could have prevented death or suffering.
During this stage you might feel guilt, desperation, or betrayal.
3. Anger and bargaining
Anger comes with the situations that people have been put in after loss and can be directed at their loved one, the world, or others. Bargaining accompanies anger as people try to regain control over negative feelings.
During this stage you might feel resentment, anger, or stubbornness.
4. Depression, reflection, and loneliness
This stage comes after enough time has passed for the loss to sink in. The stage can often have physical manifestations in sleep, concentration, or result in physical aches and pains.
During this stage you might feel heavy, frustrated, or isolated.
5. Upward turn
As people start to adjust to life post-loss, they are able to begin seeing a future in their life. The shift towards a more uplifting perspective allows people to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
During this stage you might feel motivated, refreshed, or strengthened.
In this stage, people begin to craft a new path forward after loss. Real coping skills that work for their regular life are found and they are able to create a fulfilling and happy life again.
During this stage you might feel inspired determined, or refreshed.
7. Acceptance and hope
In the last stage of grief, you are able to remember your loved one fondly and without debilitating pain. While sadness will always linger, the hope and love from before loss will come back now that you have finished the 7 stages!
During this stage you might feel hopeful, secure, or comfortable.
How Can The Stages Be Helpful?
Recognizing the stages on your own or with the help of a counselor can help give you a framework to understand your grief and work through it. The stages aren’t always linear and may look different for everyone, but knowing the basic idea of them gives people a way to understand themselves or friends that are grieving.
Understanding the 7 stages can be a great first step, but everyone’s journey can be different. It’s okay if you need to talk to a counselor, take more time, or seem to be going back to previous stages. Your grief journey is completely your own, so give yourself grace and let the stages happen naturally.
1. Option B
Option B provides resources for people grieving and people looking to support their grieving loved ones. Inspired by the book with the same title, Option B gives practical and compassionate advice. With articles, online groups, and advice, Option B is an easy place to go for any needs or questions.
Compassionate Friends provides support to families who have lost a child. With articles, advice, and volunteers working every day, the organization works to provide friendship and hope to those going through the grief process.
Written by a counselor and widow, It’s OK That You’re Not OK helps you understand your feelings and work through them. It offers real and empathetic advice from someone who understands grief personally and psychologically.
For children and young adults, the Dougy Center has over 500 centers across the US. They offer free resources and support groups online and in person for grieving children, adult caregivers, and professionals. Through education and community support the Dougy Center provides a safe place for any child dealing with loss.
Whether you’ve been seeing a therapist for years or have never once stepped in a counseling office, talking to a professional can be extremely beneficial in navigating grief. Places like the American Psychological Association and Psychology Today can help you find a licensed therapist in your area.
Dealing with grief is always difficult but understanding the 7 stages and knowing about support options that exist can make the process more manageable. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone and that one day there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Anna Steingruber. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
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