7 Stages of Grief
According to Kubler-Ross et al. (2009), there are 5 stages of grief that an individual goes through during the period of losing a loved one. These 5 stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although these are the stages that are generally well-known to most people, this article will cover the 7 stages of grief that will additionally explore sense of loss and post-grief instead to provide a different perspective.
This is the first stage of grief where people are usually in a state of disbelief and shock when they receive news of the loss of a loved one. People often refuse to accept the reality of what has occurred as it can be overwhelmingly painful for some. According to Kubler-Ross et al. (2009), denial acts as a coping mechanism for people that allows them to pace these feelings of grief. As reality starts to set in for an individual, the feelings that were denied begin to surface. This is often where people start to look for answers which slowly transitions to the next stage of grief.
The second stage of grief is when people start to question life and religion. Questions similar to “why is life so unfair?” or “why was there no divine intervention” or “why did this happen? They were a good person”. Many questions tend to be asked because people are still trying to accept reality and are looking for answers that would give them closure. Anger can be felt towards the departed or towards the situation as it can feel like they have been left behind and are still trying to comprehend the loss. The anger that people feel helps them in their process of healing because as it slowly dissipates, it gives room for more acceptance of reality.
The third stage of grief is where people are still trying to accept the reality of the loss that they have suffered. It is in this stage that people look towards divine intervention to strike some form of bargain. It can be a person hoping that the entire situation was not real or promising a lifetime of doing good deeds, hoping to have their loved one returned as exchange. During this stage, people often wish and hope that things go back to its original state. Feelings of guilt and regret start to set in and sometimes they start to blame themselves for not treating their loved one better (Kubler-Ross et al. 2009).
4. Sense of Loss
The fourth stage of grief is when people feel a sense of loss and feel unsure of how to carry on with their lives. This feeling can be derived from the deep relationships that have been formed with the departed. The loss of a loved one can make them feel lost and alone as they have been by their side for the longest of times. It makes people long to have a few more moments with the departed as they are still unable to deal with this sense of loss.
The fifth stage of grief is when feelings of acceptance are gradually growing. People begin to experience grief on a much deeper level that can feel everlasting which is why the term ‘depression’ is used to describe this stage. However, clinical depression may differ from depression during grief. Depression is a natural response when it comes to the loss of a loved one. Knowing that the departed will no longer return, is enough reason to feel depressed. These feelings of depression may feel forever, but they are necessary as part of the healing process.
The sixth stage of grief is when feelings of acceptance are stronger than before. This means that people have accepted the reality that their loved one is no longer physically by their side. Although this new reality does not align with what people usually hope for, they are able to accept it overtime. Subconsciously, people usually try to lead their lives as per normal but soon realize that they have to change and adjust to this new reality. Finding acceptance can be different for people. Some people find acceptance of loss on their own terms while others reach out to friends and family.
The final stage of grief is when people have become somewhat used to their lives without their loved one being around them. That being said, some people may never feel fully alright with their loss but they have come to terms with it and are able to carry on with their lives. Although people will miss the departed, they have accepted that this new reality is one without the departed. Some people choose to celebrate the memory of their loved one with family while others prefer to treasure their memory more privately.
To conclude, people handle their grief differently. Some people can have more stages of grief than others. Coping with loss is never an easy thing to do, especially alone. It is a unique experience for each individual as different people feel different emotions on different levels. Although these emotions can be confusing in times of grief, it is important to know that grieving is a part of a healing process that is necessary when dealing with loss. It is also very important to know that friends and family should be there for each other in these times as they can provide a source of comfort. By acknowledging that grieving is natural and necessary, it allows an individual to gradually accept reality and begin the process of healing.
Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth, and David Kessler. “The five stages of grief.” In Library of Congress Catalogin in Publication Data (Ed.), On grief and grieving. 2009.