What Are the 5 Stages of Grief?

What Are the 5 Stages of Grief?

Grief is something that we experience in response to a significant loss, disaster, or traumatic event. The loss of a loved one or a valued relationship can cause grief, and sometimes we will even feel grief in response to drastic changes in our lives. Anything that causes you to feel the loss of comfort and stability in your life can lead to grieving. 

Everyone experiences grief differently. The way you experience grief will be an individual and distinctive process. There are some common stages of the grieving process that can be helpful to understand. When you are trying to process a loss, it can feel like you are overwhelmed with confusing feelings. Understanding some of the natural progressions of grief can help you feel more in control and help you organize your thoughts and feelings.

The 5 Stages of Grief

There are five common stages of grief that were introduced by Elizabeth Kubler Ross. Understanding the process of grief and loss through these five stages can give you some guidance during a difficult time. You may experience all of the stages or a combination of different stages. The stages of grief aren’t meant to be steps to follow; they are meant to give you more information about the grieving process. You will be able to contextualize and normalize your experience. 

Stage 1: Denial

Sometimes a loss can be difficult to comprehend, let alone accept, especially if the loss or change is sudden. Denial is a natural, psychological defense mechanism people can experience after a loss. Often people choose to stay in denial rather than face difficult feelings. The desire to protect yourself by not comprehending the extent of what you are facing is a normal part of the grief process.

Stage 2: Anger

Once you have moved out of the denial stage, the next natural stage is anger. Anger can present in a variety of ways. You might feel frustrated with all of the overwhelming negative feelings. It is common to feel angry that you have to deal with the loss at all. Knowing that anger is a normal part of the grieving process can help you be patient with yourself.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Sometimes during the grieving process, you might feel the need to bargain in an attempt to alleviate the difficult feelings you are experiencing. Often this includes trying to negotiate a compromise with whatever higher power you believe in. It is normal when living through a traumatic event to try anything and everything to make your situation better.

Stage 4: Depression

Depression is a stage in the grieving process that comes with accepting the loss. This stage is experienced differently by everybody. You might feel sadness, fear, or uncertainty. During this stage, you must ensure that you are taking care of yourself. Be kind to yourself and practice self-care. You are processing the reality of your loss.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Acceptance means different things to different people. Essentially, the acceptance stage comes when you have processed the immediate feelings surrounding the loss and are starting to find a healthy state of emotional detachment. This does not mean you don’t care or don’t feel the loss anymore. It simply means that you are becoming better able to manage your emotions and begin to function normally again. 

Coping With Grief

Grief can be difficult to get through, but it is crucial to have some tools to help you cope with your feelings. There are some things that you can do to make the grieving process a little easier and give your mental health a boost. Some tips include the following:

  • Choose a good circle of support, people who can support you when you need it.
  • Take care of your physical needs, especially getting enough rest and physical activity.
  • Keep structure in your daily life. It might be helpful to make to-do lists and schedules.
  • Allow yourself to feel all the emotions you are going through, and be gentle with yourself.
  • Maintain your status quo. While experiencing grief and loss, avoid making major life changes.
  • Maintain awareness of the difference between the grieving process and depression. 

Seek Professional Support

Most of the time, people are able to move through the grieving process with the support of their friends and family. Sometimes the grieving process can take a greater toll on a person. There are a variety of things that can make the grieving process unmanageable. 

If you have trouble functioning in your daily life or if you don’t have a social circle to lean on, you may want to seek professional help from a grief counselor. It is also a good idea to seek professional support if you have a history of addiction, depression, or other mental health challenges. You should seriously consider working with a mental health professional during the grieving process.

Processing grief can be a complicated and confusing process. There are so many different emotions to manage, and it can become overwhelming very quickly. Understanding the five stages of grief can help you understand what you are feeling. Learning about the natural feelings that accompany grief will help you remember that you are not alone. If your grief has started to impact your life, you may need some extra support. You can lean on friends and family, but sometimes that is not enough. At Alter Wellness Care, we understand that you need extra compassion and support. Call us today at (866) 311-3510 to discover the resources we can provide that will help you through this difficult time.

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