Five Stages of Grief

                                                Five Stages of Grief

Our continuous existence on earth comes with varying degrees of pleasant experiences and awful challenges. One of the results of our awful experiences is Grief. Grief is universal and also a natural response to different kinds of displeasing conditions. It may occur because of the death of your loved one or pet, end of a relationship or marriage, loss of your job, retirement, and other changes that occur to you. That said, our reaction to grief is personal. You may become angry, feel empty, cry and withdraw from your current engagements. It should also be noted that grief does not follow a particular schedule or timeline – meaning that you may experience it at any time point.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross came up with a book titled “On Death and Dying” in 1969. The book categorized the stages of grief into denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. Though you may not experience the five stages, you must be familiarized with these stages because it is adapted for varying degrees of people’s experiences with different forms of losses. Therefore, this article elucidates the five stages of grief. Let’s get started.

1. Denial

Denial is a form of defence mechanism and the first stage of grief. It helps you to minify the intense pains you can experience from the loss or other causes of grief. For instance, when you lose your lovely friend or pet, you will try to survive emotional pains. The loss may be difficult for you to believe, especially when you have just exchanged pleasantry and conversation with the person some moments ago or in the previous day.

When you get the news, you will adjust your mind to believe it never happened, try to understand and absorb the loss. You reflect on the great experiences and moments you shared and imagine how you will continue living without the person by your side. A lot of issues and information are processed in your mind when you hear the unpleasant news. That being said, denial helps you to slow down the process. It also takes you through the steps – one at a time, so that you will overcome the tendency of becoming overwhelmed by your emotions.

                        Examples and Reactions of the Denial Stage of Grief

  • Job Loss

When you lose your job, you may react with the statement “They call me tomorrow or I will resume at my duty post tomorrow.”

  • Breakup or Divorce

At the denial stage of your spouse’s breakup or divorce, you may assume it was a flimsy upset and say, “We will agree and come together tomorrow.”

  • Death of Your Loved One

When your loved one dies, you may assume she will come around any seconds. You will prepare to give her an exciting welcome party.

  • Terminal Illness Diagnosis

The denial stage is common to people that are diagnosed with terminal illnesses. They can react by saying “I believe I never had cancer. The doctor gave me the wrong results.”

                                    How to Deal with the Denial Stage of Grief

  • Develop a mindset that denial is normal when you experience the loss of a friend, breakup or divorce, and many more. It serves as your major defence mechanism thereby helping you to survive more pains from the loss.
  • Make efforts to see the reminders of your loved ones and the pleasant memories you shared. Though seeing these reminders may be painful, the truth is, you need to see them – because it will take you through the denial stage. For instance, you can look at their photographs, listen to songs, reread old messages and letters, visit special places and visit gravesites.
  • Develop an honest mindset to whatever has happened. Express your emotions, cry freely and allow others to mourn with you.
  • Believe there is no scheduled time frame to end the denial stage. Therefore, try to accept the reality of the awful issues that have happened.
  • If you find it challenging to get over the denial stage, you can seek professional help. Your inability to do that results in inefficiency in your daily undertakings and activities.

2. Anger

In our world today, anger is commonly experienced by majority of people engaged in different activities. It also features in the stages of grief. Anger results from an extreme emotional discomfort you experience while adjusting to the new reality the loss of your loved one. It acts as a masking effect, hiding those pains and emotions you currently experience.

It should be noted that anger doesn’t require you to become vulnerable to different situations. It is acceptable to develop anger rather than becoming scared. The anger stage helps you to express the pain and emotion with lesser fear of rejection and judgement about the unpleasant issues that happened.

As part of its masking functionalities, anger encompasses different feelings of conditions like bitterness, discomfort, resentment and many more. Not all individuals will go through the anger stage. However, some people may spend a considerable part of their time at this stage. When your anger subsides, you will begin to develop rational thinking and become realistic about all that happened. It also results in you developing feelings that you have been pushed aside or neglected.

                                    Examples and Reactions to the Anger Stage

  • Job Loss

When you lose your job, the anger stage helps you assume that you had a terrible boss at work. Then hope your boss fails sooner.

  • Terminal Illness Diagnosis

Different reactions may cross your mind. You can start asking questions like “How did God allow this to happen to you? Where is God when it happens to you?”

  • Breakup or Divorce

Many lovers express their anger with responses like “I hate seeing his face! He will regret dumping me for another person.”

  • Death of Your Loved One

When your loved one dies, you express your anger by saying “If he spent more funds to take care of himself, he wouldn’t have died this way.”

                                    How to Deal with the Anger Stage of Grief

  • Identify that you are supposed to allow yourself to express anger about the unpleasant situation. You are allowed to scream and express your feelings in an anger-like attitude. Then find a lonely place to reflect on the issues.
  • Never keep your anger to yourself. Make an effort to explore it without harming yourself. The anger you develop indicates the overwhelming love you have for the person that died.
  • Share both reasonable and unreasonable reasons why you developed anger – with your friends, colleagues and family. Express your true feelings about all that happened without any fears of craziness, over-emotional and negativity.
  • Vent your anger and frustrations with beneficial activities like swimming, racing, walking, football, rugby, and other sporting activities.
  • Find the right support group and join them. This group comprises people that have been through your present condition. They are the perfect set of people that can help out. You can find these support groups in hospices, counselling centres, local hospitals and funeral homes. You need to explore this option if the expression of your anger with your family does not work out.
  • Contact an experienced and trusted family physician, spiritual counsellor and certified therapist to help you out.

3. Bargaining

The bargaining stage of grief comes with different kinds of statements that arise from your willingness to minimize and alleviate the pains that would have resulted from a displeasing condition. Bargaining helps you to develop different methods to prevent a pain that may result from a loss or prevent your current loss.

When you start bargaining, you tend to direct your request to higher levels or powers that can influence the outcome. Many people consider bargaining when they realize nothing can be done to get their desired result or influence change. Your feelings of being helpless or hopeless can cause you to bargain for a favourable solution. This gives you absolute control over the condition that would have become uncontrollable. While bargaining with higher levels or powers, you may focus on your regrets and faults about the person you are losing. You may take a flashback at your interaction with the person you are losing, remember their pains and the times you felt disconnected with them. Also, you can recall times that you have made some statements you didn’t mean, took drastic actions and desire to wind back the hands to time to behave and do things differently.

                        Examples and Reactions to the Bargaining Stage of Grief

  • Job Loss

After you were sacked by your employer, you may react by saying “Your employers would have realized how valuable you were – had it been you worked on weekends.”

  • Breakup or Divorce

After receiving a divorce letter or breakup message from your spouse, you may react by saying “She wouldn’t have left me – if only I had spent considerable time with her and did all he/she wanted.”

  • Terminal Illness Diagnosis

After being diagnosed with illnesses like cancer, you may react by saying “She wouldn’t have developed the disease if she had visited the clinic sooner.”

  • Death of Your Loved One

After the news of the death of your loved one breakout, you may think “She wouldn’t have gone if I had called to check on her that night.”

                                    How to Deal with the Bargaining Stage of Grief

  • Develop a mindset that passing through the bargaining stage is normal. It serves helpful purposes and provides hope and a temporary escape from your pain from a loss. With bargaining, you can have considerable time to adjust and effectively cope with the reality of your present condition.
  • Share your bargaining hopes with friends, colleagues and family. You can also find a goals-driven support group and join them. They contain people that have experienced similar situations like yours.
  • Contact a professional counsellor if you still find yourself languishing in the bargaining stage of grief.

4. Depression

Many a time, people take away their imaginations and begin to reflect on the realities that accompany their present situation. At this point, bargaining is no longer an option to take. You are faced with the exact issues associated with all that has happened. When you are in this stage, you start feeling the loss of your loved one more than you can imagine. Your panic drastically reduces, and emotional fog clears. Then you start feeling their loss more to the extent that it becomes unavoidable.

As soon as you start thinking more about their loss, most especially when they have made an incredible and memorable impact in your life – sadness grows appreciable with a real sense of missing their presence. When it reaches its climax, you will start retreating, interacting with lesser number of people around you, isolating yourself, becoming less sociable and having an unproductive moment at work. Depression is a natural stage you must pass through. Hence, you must seek the best ways to manage the situation and discover an effective way out when you become depressed from a displeasing condition.

                        Examples and Reactions to Depression Stage of Grief

  • Job Loss

When you become depressed from your job loss, you can react by asking yourself questions like “How do I go forward from my current job loss.”

  • Breakup or Divorce

At your depression due to divorce or breakup, one of the questions you ask yourself is the reasons why you started the relationship with your spouse at first.

  • Terminal Illness Diagnosis

Many times, people blame themselves when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. They also react with statements like “This cancer will end my career and life.”

  • Death of Your Loved One

When people die, they are irreplaceable in their heart. In your depression state, you start asking questions like “What will my life be without my spouse.”

                                    How to Deal with the Depression Stage of Grief

  • Feel your feelings without restrictions. Express them with your church members, support groups, professional counsellors, clergy and your family physicians. Add some creativity while expressing your feelings. You can write letters, draw and paint pictures, create scrapbook or photo albums, post something unique on your social media account, create attractive playlists and many more.
  • Acknowledge your pain without any attempt to suppress your grief. When you avoid your grief for a long period, it can result in complications like anxiety, hypertension, clinical depression, substance abuse, and different health problems.
  • Don’t engage yourself in negative behaviour like drug and alcohol abuses – that can cause different health problems.
  • Exercise is a front-line treatment prescribed for depression. Therefore, get yourself involved in different forms of exercise. You can walk around, participate in running, football, rugby, swimming and many more.
  • If your depression state persists, you can consult a medical doctor. They are trained to diagnose and give you an effective treatment to overcome your depression state. Depression condition that is mostly handled by medical doctors is called clinical depression and complicated grief.

5. Acceptance

Acceptance is the last stage of grief. At this stage, the pain you feel from the loss would have drastically reduced. However, you still feel some pains from the loss. In the acceptance stage, you have accepted all that happened and developed a mindset to move ahead with your normal lifestyle. You have also understood all that it means to your new life. That being said, the survival to resist some issues that emanated from the loss continues.

Furthermore, regret and sadness will still feature in the acceptance stage. However, other stages of grief that account for your emotional tactics like bargaining, denial and anger may no longer be present. That said, you will feel different in attitude at the acceptance stage. You need to be positive – believing that you have more good things to achieve in the coming days.

                        Examples and Reactions in the Acceptance Stage of Grief

  • Job Loss

When you lose your job and you are at the acceptance stage of grief, you can react with the statement “I will find a way forward from this situation and start a new career or path.”

  • Breakup or Divorce

When your spouse sends you a divorce letter or breakup message, you can react by saying “It is a healthy choice that is timely.”

  • Terminal Illness Diagnosis

Though it may be painful seeing your life cut short by illness. However, the acceptance stage helps you to make an effort to tidy up and work hard to achieve more in the final days.

  • Death of Your Loved One

When you lose your loved one, you can react by counting among the fortunate persons to have spent incredible moments with him or her. The memories you shared will continue to linger in your heart.

                                    How to Deal with Acceptance Stage of Grief

  • Develop a mindset that you must accept and start living your normal lifestyle or design a new lifestyle that will not feature the impact of your loved one. Try to make a meaningful impact on your newly designed lifestyle without his presence.
  • Exercise patience with yourself because you cannot ascend to the acceptance stage quickly. It is a stepwise process that can take months or years.
  • Keep detailed content and update it daily. Write down any event that gives you the exciting moment and relief from pain. For instance, you can make a note of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, visit from your neighbours, exciting memories that made you smile and many more. When you read through this content, gratitude will become your attitude. Then you can be motivated to move on with life.
  • In case you get stuck in your acceptance state, you can seek the help of a professional therapist.

Wrap Up

Grief is personal to all individuals. No two persons can experience the same grief in the same way. The ways we feel and handle unpleasant happenings are different. In case you find it challenging to cope with the current changes and feelings associated with the loss and other causes of grief, you can seek the assistance of a mental health specialist and professional therapists. You will get the full assurance of getting over your present state of mind.


Jordi Clarke. (2020 March, 21). The Five Stages of Grief. Retrieved from

Kimberly Holland. (2018, September 25). What You Should Know About the Stages of Grief Retrieved from

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