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The Stages Of Grief


In 1969, a Swiss American psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote in her book “On Death and Dying” that grief could be divided into five stages. Her observations came from years of working with terminally ill individuals.
These stages are:


1. Denial and isolation

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance


The stages of grief and mourning tend to be universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life, across many cultures.


Grief is different for every person, so you may begin coping with loss in the bargaining stage and find yourself in anger or denial next. You may remain for months in one of the five stages but skip others entirely.


Grief can be an overwhelming emotion. It’s not unusual to respond to the intense and often sudden feelings by pretending the loss or change isn’t happening. Denying it gives you time to more gradually absorb the news and begin to process it. This is a common defense mechanism and helps numb you to the intensity of the situation.


As you move out of the denial stage, however, the emotions you’ve been hiding will begin to rise and you may start to feel angry. This anger may be redirected at other people and you may even aim your anger at objects.


While your rational brain knows the object of your anger isn’t to blame, your feelings at that moment are too intense to feel that.


Anger may mask itself in feelings like bitterness or resentment. It may not be clear-cut fury or rage. Not everyone will experience this stage, and some may linger here. As the anger subsides, however, you may begin to think more rationally about what is happening and feel the emotions you’ve been pushing aside.


When coping with loss, it isn’t unusual to feel so desperate that you are willing to do almost anything to alleviate or minimize the pain. Losing a loved one can cause us to consider any way we can avoid the current pain or the pain we are anticipating from loss. There are many ways we may try to bargain.


When bargaining starts to take place, we are often directing our requests to a higher power, or something bigger than we are that may be able to influence a different outcome. “God, if you can heal this person I will turn my life around”, or “I promise to be better if you will let this person live,” or “If only I had spent more time with him/her, he/she would have stayed.”


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 situation. Bargaining no longer feels like an option and we are facing whats happening. We start to feel depressed and pull inward as the sadness grows. You may feel foggy, heavy, and very sad. You may say things to yourself like  “why go on at all?”, or “how can I go on?”


At this stage, you may want to talk to someone to help you overcome the feeling of depression and accept your situation. Acceptance may not mean happiness. It does, however, mean that you now fully understand how the loss has and will affect your life and how you can move forward!


If you decide you need help coping with the feelings and changes, please contact us.



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