Understanding The 5 Stages Of Grief


If there is something every human being knows about, it is grief. Everyone processes and understands grief differently, but we are all aware that it exists. Grief counseling isn’t just for people who have lost someone to death. It isn’t just for the recently divorced nor is it just for those who have lost love. It is for everyone who has lost something or someone dear to them.

There is a framework in place for what is known as the 5 stages of grief. This was developed by the late Elizabeth Kubler- Ross. Sometime due to lack of support, stigma, or fear of judgement, people suffer in silence instead of seeking professional help. To help people understand and accept grief as a healthy emotion, first we need to learn about 5 stages to grieving and loss: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Stage 1: Denial

When someone is in denial, they may refuse to acknowledge the loss. In their mind, it’s just a dream and when you wake up, everything will be normal. Even though we logically know we have lost someone or something, we can’t rationalize the “why?” As with every emotion: it is a healthy coping mechanism but as with all things, “Too much of a good thing is bad”. Once you can accept the fact that the loss has occurred, you will begin to question the Why’s and How’s of the loss, and you can move on to the next stage.

Stage 2: Anger

You may experience rage at loved ones, your specific god, at yourself or even at the outside world for just carrying on as normal. Here everything and everyone have just moved on but you can’t and this frustrates you. You’ve looped your emotions and there is no other outlet but rage. You may externalize this rage or you may internalize it. Remember, when you internalize your anger, it could actually be a sign of guilt. You feel powerless with the loss that has occurred and you question why YOU didn’t do anything to prevent it. Allow yourself to feel anger, and acknowledge that it exists.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Here is where you begin to re-hash what has happened. You run over the various scenarios in your mind wishing you could have a re-do. In this stage, people tend to focus on the past that they forget that the present is passing by. You don’t realize that you’re so focused on the “if only’s” that you place yourself in an idealistic world where everything is alright: Be it in the present or even in the future.

Stage 4: Depression

This stage is just that, depressing.  It is natural to overcome by sadness and this intense sensation of being empty and perhaps even alone, even if you are surrounded by people. In your mind, your existence has been reduced to nothing more than an apathetic state where you honestly just don’t care what happens anymore.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Once you begin to accept the things that you cannot change, you will begin to move on with your life. Yes. You can acknowledge that the loss exists, but it means that the loss no longer controls your life.  Honestly, there is no set way to feel when you’re dealing with grief. You may experience different stages of grief differently from others or in different order. The most important step is that you seek professional help. Talk to people who are trained to help you process and overcome your grief, so you are not losing touch from reality and struggling to maintain daily functioning.

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