The 5 Stages of Grief

The loss of someone close to you can be a traumatic time. You may find you experience the 5 stages of grief.

No one can be certain about the pain of grief, and everyone will experience it in their own way and over their own time. The loss of a love one can be a traumatic experience, and grieving is a process that everyone goes through at some point in life. It’s no easy thing and won’t get easier no matter how many times you experience grief.

We spoke to S. Stibbards & Sons, funeral directors in Basildon, Essex. They offer counselling and grief support throughout the entire funeral planning process – with support extending further if needed. Both funeral directors and psychology experts have come to know that there is a common stage process of grieving. Whilst this may not apply to all, the 5 stages of grief have become set in society, with many feelings that it sums up their grieving process in the most accurate way.

In this post, we’ll be looking at the 5 stages of grief. What they are, where it came from and how you may feel throughout each stage. Grieving is completely natural in a difficult time, so if you can understand your feelings better, the process may not be as confusing.

Where did they come from?

John Bowlby and Colin Murray-Parkes, two renowned psychologists, camp up with the initial concept back in the 1960s, after interviewing 22 widows. They surmised that there were 4 stages of grief. However, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer whose work changed attitudes towards the dying, set the frame work for the 5 stages we know today. Kubler-Ross found that these 5 stages of grieving are an integral process in our minds, to help us deal with the loss of loved ones. In our next section, we outline the 5 stages of grief.

The 5 Stages

Each person’s grieving experience is different, the process can go on for as long as need be, and some find they move through the stages quicker than others.

  1. Denial

The first of the 5 stages is Denial. Some may find that they disassociate themselves with the world around them. The weight of loss may cause some people to feel numb and pull away from those closest to them. When grieving, you may find yourself denying the loss, or sometimes denying that you’re affected. Putting on a front and carrying on with your daily life. The shock of the loss is a heavy burden to bear. However, denial is your body’s way of allowing you to process grief – allowing us to take in as much as possible, without it overwhelming you. Whilst you may not realise it, you’re into the first stages of the grieving process, and whilst it may seem harder, you will get through it.

  1. Anger

Anger comes after denial. This can be one of the most confusing stages, as you may rarely experience anger. This stage is when you’re angry at everything and anyone – through no fault of your own or even theirs. Your anger is simply a coping mechanism, and those around you will fully understand and accept your anger as suffering. The truth is, that anger is just a front of the pain you’re experiencing. It’s the way our body reacts to being in pain, and the pain of loss can cause our emotions to sky rocket. The anger that you feel is an integral part of the grieving process, as it allows you to channel your pain into something that we understand. Remember, you’re not irrational at a time of loss, you’re just experiencing your grief.

  1. Bargaining

This stage can differ for everyone, as it can be based on your faith. Bargaining is a stage which is associated with religion, where you plead to your God to make the pain go away, and even may try to strike a deal with them. It’s a plea for life to return to how it was before the loss, even though there is no way back. The religious may find comfort in prayer, but for those that aren’t followers of a faith, bargaining can be different. It’s questions of ‘what if’ and ‘why me’ – these thoughts can torment you if you let them take over. However, this stage is a natural part of the process because it’s the point in which you realise that the loss is irreversible – no matter how much you don’t want it to be true. It’s a key stage on the road to the final stage of grieving.

  1. Depression

Depression can only be described as how it is. You will feel the saddest you’ve ever felt before, and it will be a very difficult time. It’s a feeling of emptiness, pain, anger – all in one. It’s the final stage before acceptance, but it can be the hardest for those to deal with. It’s not as well understood as the other stages, because it can come much later after the loss. You may find that you’re numb, and you are alone (or at least feel that way). It’s unfortunate, but it’s a stage that can take time to overcome. However, it’s one of the most natural reactions to loss. Don’t fear your own sadness, but go through it, and when you move to the next stage, you’re almost there…

  1. Acceptance

Finally, we have Acceptance. This stage is often confused with finally being over your grief, but it’s not a clean-cut process. The thing about grief is, each stage can come back into our lives at any time because loss is traumatic. However, acceptance isn’t finally being ‘fine’, it’s accepting that loss is a part of life, everyone experiences it. It’s the understanding that it’s a difficult time, but that their memories will always be with you. The person you love may be gone, but they live on in your memories and words. Remember them and remember that loss is a part of life. It doesn’t make grieving any easier, but acceptance is the 5thstage of grief. Accept that it happened, and does happen to everyone, and keep their memories alive with you.

Grieving is different for everyone, and as we’ve said, it’s not a clean-cut process. The stages can last for as long as they need to and can appear at any time, in any order. Just remember that everything you feel is natural, and it will be easier – even if it is eventually.

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