The 5 Stages of Grief

Grief is a normal phenomenon, and everyone goes through it atleast once in life. it might be a result of losing a loved one, the end of a friendship/relationship, loss of a job, or any other major life change. Grief is also personal, and unclear. There is no particular schedule or timeline. Every person suffers differently. One may cry, become angry, feel lonely, disturbed, withdraw from the outside world, this is totally dependent upon the person.

However, there are some common elements in the process of grieving.

History: The concept of the 5 stages of grief was given by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book “On Death and Dying”. She mentioned that grief can be divided into 5 stages. These observations were the result of years of working with terminally ill individuals.

Her theory is known as the Kubler-Ross model.

What are the Five-stages of grief?

  1. Denial/Shock
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Everyone might not go into all the stages of grief. And the order of stages might also differ, depending on person to person. It is subjective in nature. One may stay I the stage of denial for months and skip the other stages entirely, or it is also possible to start with the bargaining stage and then jump to anger.

Let us discuss all the stages in detail:

1. Denial:

It is the first of the five stages of grief. To survive the loss, one may completely deny the situation. It is the stage where the world loses all its meaning. The situation is often overwhelming. The stage of Shock and Denial. The mind goes numb. we find asking questions like

1. How to get over this, is it even possible?

2. Why go on?

3. What s the point of everything?

The person just finds a way to get through each day. This Denial or shock stage help an individual to cope and survive. Denial is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. With time, you start asking yourself questions and unknowingly start the healing process. Denial starts to fade and all the feelings you were avoiding begin to surface. However, this might be a difficult process as the emotions you have been hiding for a long time will begin to rise. You have to confront a huge amount of sorrow that you have been denying. This is apart of the grief journey. It is supposed to be difficult.

Examples of Denial Stage:

  1. in event of a breakup- “Things will be sorted, this is not the end.”
  2. Losing a job- “I was a valuable employee, they need me.”
  3. Death: “this is not possible, take them to another hospital”
  4. Illness- “The reports might be mistaken, I am perfectly fine.”

2. Anger

Being angry is important for healing. Accept your anger even though it seems never-ending. Anger is an emotion that we can manage easily. Anger is filled with pain. However, we live in a society that is scared of anger. It teaches us to suppress anger rather than feeling it. It is just an indication of the intensity of love you hold for your loss. Denial is the coping mechanism of nature, anger is the masking effect. It is a way to hide the emotions you are hiding. The feeling might be redirected to other people, your friend who ghosted you, a loved one who died, your boss, your ex, or a doctor who diagnosed you with some illness. This anger might even be directed to an object related to the lost one. For example, throwing away the gifts your ex gave you.

However, your brain is aware of the fact that the object is not to be blamed. But the feelings take over and you get angry. Everyone will not get at this stage, while others may stay here forever. As it fades, you may start thinking rationally about your surroundings and feel what you were trying to avoid.

Examples of anger stage:

  1. In event of a breakup- “You are going to regret this.”
  2. In event of losing a job- “This boss sucks, they won’t run for long.”
  3. In the event of death- “How could you leave me?”
  4. Illness- “Why all bad things happen to me? God, why are you doing this?”

3. Bargaining

After a loss, a person wants to return to his old life. Bargaining and guilt walk side-by-side. The “what if” and “if only” are the questions, you ask yourself. You might also find yourself bargaining with the pain. When you are ready to do anything to not feel the pain.

Feeling vulnerable and helpless is a part of grief. There are moments when you want to regain control or to feel that situations are in control. In this stage of grief, you ask yourself a lot of “what if”, and “if only” sentences. The religious ones often try to make deals with God to give them relief from pain. It is the stage that postpones sadness, hurt, and confusion.

Examples of Bargaining Stage:

  1. In the event of a break-up, “ I won’t let you feel alone, please come back.”
  2. In the event of losing a job, “ I should have worked a little extra, they would have valued me.”
  3. In the event of a death, “If I took her to hospital in time, she would have been alive now.”
  4. In an event of illness, “ If we took the tests earlier, we would have stopped this.”

4. Depression:

This is the stage of grief where we are in present. The feeling of nothingness, loneliness, emptiness, through these, grief gets inside us. It is deeper than we imagine. The stage feels like it is going to last forever. This is the body’s response to immediate loss. You withdraw yourself from life. There are intense emptiness, sadness, and self-doubts. you start asking yourself, “Is this pain even worth it?”, “Why should I bear this?”, “Why not go away?” The prior stages of bargain and anger are “active” while this stage is “quiet”. Here you are not running from your emotions. But working through them. The Depression stage can be messy like all other stages. It leaves the person confused, heavy, and alone. If you are stuck in this stage for more than two weeks, talk with an expert. He could help you cope.

Example:

  1. In the event of a break-up, “ I can’t live without him.”
  2. In the event of losing a job, “My career is ruined.”
  3. In the event of a death, “What is the point of living without you?”
  4. In the event of illness, “This is a terrible end.”

5. Acceptance

This is not being “all right” or “OK” with the event. It is difficult to feel ok ever for a lot of people. This stage is acceptance of reality. That the event has actually happened. Life has changed. You start learning to live with it. you start to rebuild your life. Making new relationships and moving on. This is the stage where you realize that there are mere good days than bad, and it is OK.

Example:

  1. In the event of a break-up, “It is better for me.”
  2. In the event of Losing a job, “I can start a better one.”
  3. In the event of a death, “She was a good person, glad she was a part of my life.”
  4. In the event of illness, “I will enjoy my final time with my family.”

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Ayushi Verma

Ayushi Verma

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Creative Writer with intuitive personality|| keen interest in marketing