The Five Stages of Grief

Author: Michelle Allende

Death impacts people in many different ways, and there are a variety of emotional responses that the occurrence evokes. Many loved ones are often unable to maintain their composure throughout the day and are open to sharing their thoughts, while others keep their emotions concealed and refuse to let others know that they are suffering. Although society often teaches that a person is weak for showing emotions, it is completely normal to experience grief and the feelings that come with it. Overall, it is important for supporters to remember to be patient with someone that has just experienced the death of a loved one.

1. Denial


In the beginning, it is often difficult to fully accept death, especially when someone close has passed away. To fully recognize that that person is gone, even after speaking or seeing them not too longer before, can be hard to accept. When experiencing a multitude of differing emotions, and when the facts of life become all the more real and prominent, day to day life can become extremely painful to live. Denial sets in to help alleviate shock and assist in coping with what is now reality. Everyone’s state of denial lasts for varying amounts of time; eventually, it begins to fade for the healing process to continue.

2. Anger


Anger can often manifest itself into hostility between the sufferer and their circle. It is important to remember that anger is completely normal to feel, and it is difficult to be mindful of it when emotions are high. Because it is arduous for the sufferer to talk about the death of a loved one, those around them should try not to take the anger to heart; however, it is also important for them to remember that they are not a punching bag, and rather than letting it go, they should help to find other outlets of anger for the sufferer if possible.

3. Bargaining


Bargaining is essentially an “if only” stage. If only the illness had been caught earlier. If only an accident that caused the terrible event to occur didn’t happen. If only they had treated the person better. It is the stage of grief where guilt rises to a higher level. Typically, the one who has lost the loved one wishes they would’ve spent more time with them or remember the terrible things they had said to them at one point. To attempt to avoid these thoughts, people often do what they can to not feel the pain from their loss. Despite all of this, the loss of a loved one causes people to believe that if they did anything differently, they could’ve prevented what occurred.

4. Depression


When emotions come full force, depression can set in, and it can be extremely isolating depending on the person. Reality sets in that that person is gone forever. Dealing with this fact can cause worry about losing time with others in a personal circle, but these feelings can be alleviated with reassurance and encouragement. Although depressive states can cause people to retreat into hiding to deal with their grief, it is normal and can be helped with a support group and loving words.

5. Acceptance


Acceptance is reached when the death of a loved one does not have inhibitory emotional effects. People will be able to function normally again, going about their days more easily than when their loved one first passed away; however, that does not mean that they do not feel sadness over their new reality and that happiness comes suddenly because the depression stage has passed. There may be some guilt left that their life is moving on without their loved one, but, eventually, new relationships are formed, and their lives go on with the memory of those that have passed.

It is of high importance to remember that every individual is different. The five stages of grief are general in terms and do not address every single emotional response one can or will feel. People dealing with the loss of a loved one require love, support, and patience as they go through each step of the process. With a supportive group, they will be able to overcome this difficult time and move on with their own lives.

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