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What are the 7 stages of grief? Understand your Feeling

7 stages of grief

What are the stages of grief?

In the 1960s, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was the first to identify five distinct phases of griefing. Since then, her method has been refined and expanded to include 7 stages of grief, each of which is still up for discussion.

Psychotherapist Nathan MacArthur said, “One of the most commonly known theories about grief is that we go through ‘stages'” when confronted with sadness. “However, newer studies, as well as my own personal experience with mourning individuals, indicate that the grieving process is more complex and difficult than that. Once we begin to embrace the truth of our loss, we may experience sudden and intense surges of emotions, such as when we meet a person who resembles the deceased or when a certain song plays.

Do the 7 stages of grief happen in order?

There are many different kinds of losses, yet everyone experiences grief at some point. “Some degree of loss occurs to everyone at some point in their lives,” says Wendy Liu, a grief counsellor. “Among these are the following: breakups, miscarriages, deaths, divorces, pets, job changes, diminished sexual intimacy, diminished independence due to illness or injury, and so on.”

It’s vital to remember that the path through grief is different for everyone. The so-called “grief stages” don’t always occur in that order; in fact, there are cases when they overlap or are skipped completely. It might be beneficial to recognise some of the emotions you may feel by recognising these 7 aspects, regardless of how you experience them.

The 7 stages of grief

1. Shock 

Shock, the first of the 7 stages of grief, is a natural and inevitable part of any loss. It doesn’t matter whether we think we’ve had enough time to be ready for a loved one’s death. It will happen, we just don’t know when or on what day. Because the news hasn’t really settled in yet, people who are in shock generally act normally and don’t show many emotions.

“The intensity of your emotions can make you feel numb and distant from them, which is a defence mechanism,” Nathan explains.

2. Denial

Denial is a common reaction to loss; the person knows something has occurred, but it still doesn’t seem real.

That I didn’t believe it was less of a denial on my part than the question, “But how can they not be here?” “How are they not here anymore?” Sherene asks.

People often report feeling a “mental fog” in addition to shock and denial, according to Nathan. “This can encompass a wide range of symptoms, such as difficulty focusing, insomnia, low motivation, thinking in circles, and a generalised lack of decision-making abilities.”

3. Anger

Sometimes individuals attempt to hide the anger they feel during this period of grief, even though it’s acceptable.

Someone else’s presence may help alleviate one’s anger, according to Nathan. “Anyway, we need to meet someone we can be completely honest with.”

Sherene opens up about her frustration with the fact that her grief was different from that of her loved ones. “I was furious with myself—for dragging things out and for wanting to bring up Mum and Dad with those who thought I ought to have gotten over it by now.”

4. Bargaining 

During the bargaining stage, you might beg the universe for a second chance by making a pledge to yourself or a higher power. Feelings of guilt or blame, as well as a search for rationality where none exists, are common among those who have experienced loss.

The feeling of “Maybe I could have done things differently” is there, according to Nathan. I should have acted if I had known more about their health or had prevented them from leaving the home. Sometimes we just can’t stop thinking about “what if?” and how forlorn and powerless we feel.

5. Depression

Grief is often accompanied by a tangle of emotions, which may lead to feelings of dread, loneliness, worry, and depression. At times, the pain seems unbearable. One may wonder what the point of living is or want to be reunited with a loved one who has passed away, according to Nathan. It is crucial to seek assistance in situations such as these.

Friendships will be strengthened if you can accept or ask for support at a time of grief, he says, since many don’t know how to help others in grief.

6. Reconstruction

By now, you may still be climbing and down the ladder, but you are creating a new life and adjusting to your “new normal” in the absence of your departed loved one. Even when the issue is beyond your control, the hurt may still feel intense and agonising. Even although you might not be entirely prepared to accept the death, you understand that life must continue.

7. Acceptance and hope

The final stage among the 7 stages of grief of this model is acceptance. Acceptance to something is to acknowledge that you have no control over the situation but do have control over your reaction to it.

“There are moments when we have to put our grief aside and focus on other things, like work or social events,” Nathan adds.

However, this is also the point when you may regress and experience the same overwhelming feelings. It is common to experience a shift between any of the stages of grief on an hourly or even minutely basis.

Sherene explains that she allowed herself to mourn. Patience seemed like a blessing to me.

Processing grief

Every person grieves in their own unique manner; there is no universally accepted method. Healing also takes time and differs from one individual to another; there is no magic bullet. You must be patient with yourself since there is no “normal” period.

Here are some coping mechanisms that Wendy recommends that you could try.
  • Use words or another creative medium, like sketching or painting, to express your grief.
  • Reach out to others, whether they be family, friends, therapists or local support organisations.
  • Regardless of the format, seek assistance.
  • Do deep breathing exercises on a daily basis.
  • Establish manageable objectives.
  • Get at least a little bit of exercise every day and make sure you’re getting adequate sleep.
  • Maintain proper hydration and a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Practise answers to questions and reactions to novel circumstances.

A Note from Known_Psychology

The duration of the 7 stages of grief is not predetermined. The procedure could take several weeks for some people. Others might need to wait years. If you’re concerned that depression may have developed from your grief. We understand that it’s difficult, but try to communicate with people and express your emotions. Even though it can feel very isolating, you don’t have to go through this alone; help is available.


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