Grief is no stranger to those who have lost loved ones.
Even the passing of a beloved family pet can trigger intense sadness, pain, and mourning.
These feelings of loss aren’t easy. But they’re an important part of life, and dealing with them properly is important to moving on and finding meaning beyond them.
So in this post, you’re going to learn about the 5 stages of grief.
These stages were outlined by the Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her groundbreaking work On Death and Dying, which was written in 1969.
In this book, she documented the death adjustment pattern for humans, calling it the Five Stages of Grief.
In learning about these different stages of grief, you can help yourself to figure out where you might be in the grieving process. You may also be able to help yourself understand how to move beyond where you are now, to give your life meaning and purpose beyond the loss you now feel.
Let’s talk about these 5 stages.
In the initial stages of a loss, we’re usually unable to fully register the pain and disbelief associated with the loss of our loved one.
We may struggle to believe that it’s real. We may also feel distracted with other things.
Some will likely try to convince themselves that this death hasn’t occurred. They may even fail to comprehend the magnitude of what’s going on.
In many ways, this stage can serve as a helpful defense mechanism—giving the person room to exist without the full brunt of the pain coming down on them in the initial stages of grief.
Anger is a natural reaction to loss.
The individual may feel anger due to many things, including:
- The cause of death
- The person who died
- God, for allowing them to die
- The randomness of the universe
- Maybe even themselves
The truth of the matter, however, is that anger helps us to express pain. Giving people permission to be angry in the aftermath of loss is helpful.
Bargaining is another natural part of the grieving process, and typically stemms from guilt.
The person may think and speak in ‘if only’ statements, focusing on the regret they feel about their loved one’s passing.
Of course, while this is a natural part of the grieving process, it’s also important to understand that the world isn’t perfect—and that sometimes, bad things happen; even when we try to be good people.
Depression generally manifests itself as acute and deep sadness. This stage will tend to come as your loss becomes more apparent, and you realize just how deeply it has affected your life.
This sadness may feel endless, like it will last forever.
But it does pass with time.
Many people believe that acceptance means that you’re ‘ok’ with the loss, and that you’ve finally gotten over it.
But this isn’t entirely true.
Acceptance just means that you now fully understand that things will never be the same.
It isn’t the end of grief. In fact, the various stages of grief may continue to come and go for years to come.
But one great sign of acceptance, and perhaps even a goal of it, is being able to remember the person with happiness and love, instead of guilt, sadness, and depression.
This is most certainly a happier place to end up, and a good sign that you’re finding hope beyond your loss.