Denial, Anger, Depression — Understanding the Different Stages of Grief
When a loved one passes away, it’s only natural to go through a process of grieving and coping with the loss. The feelings of loss give way to different emotions and feelings. You can go from yearning for your loved one to feelings of unbelievable anger toward the unfairness of life in seconds.
The swing of emotions during the grieving process can increase the risk of developing psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders. That’s why it is important to identify the different emotions of grief and be aware of what feelings you or someone who is suffering a loss, may be experiencing.
There are a number of theories when it comes to dealing with grief and loss. A common theory used to understand the stages of grief is one by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926–2004). However, her research was based on those dying and the stages they went through as they cope with the end of their life. Later, these stages were applied to the process of grieving or coping with the loss of loved one. More recently many believe that these stages are not as applicable to grieving a loss, but they are still widely used to study the process of grief.
Nonetheless, the different stages Kubler-Ross described may help you understand what you may be feeling. Please keep in mind that even though these stages are presented in order, they do not have to follow a particular sequence. Also, not everyone will go through all of them. Grieving is a very personal journey!
Denial and Isolation
Denial is the first line of defense that a person can use to cope with the feelings of loss and sadness. The immediate reaction is refusing to accept the loss either unconsciously or consciously.
It’s often accompanied by a phase of isolation where the person refuses to meet anyone who might shatter the illusion they have created for themselves regarding the loss. It’s important to give the person in this denial and isolation stage some time and space to come to terms with the loss on their own.
Once the veil of denial is lifted, a grieving person may go through anger. The feelings of unfairness and having to deal with a life without their loved one could cause them to lash out at others and the world in general. They may look for someone to blame for not being able to prevent the death as they cope with it.
The bargaining stage is where the grieving individual has realized that death is inevitable and hopes to delay accepting their loss completely by doing anything in exchange for a little more time with their loved one. The stage is also referred to as yearning by some experts. It is where a grieving person will long for or seek just a few more moments with their loved one to tell them how much they are loved.
Depression can hit when the reality and certainty of death become apparent to the grieving person. They can become sullen, withdrawn, and give in to bouts of hysteria and crying. The feelings of hopelessness and depression can cause them to disconnect from family members and friends, and in this stage they might even think about harming themselves. At this stage, the grieving person requires the most love and care from their family and friends.
Once a grieving person comes to terms with the loss and is ready to move past thinking of what might have been, the comes a place of acceptance. They realize that mortality is inevitable and start to think of ways to find the strength to let go and move forward.
It is important to understand that all of these stages are fluid. The duration of each stage depends on the person and his/her ability to come to terms with the loss. Similarly, one might experience feelings of depression first and anger later. There is no set pattern for grief as it is dependent on a number of variables, which are very personal and different for everyone.
But, what every grieving person or family will need through their grief journeys is help with household chores, including meals, house cleaning, lawn care, etc. These tasks can be very difficult to complete while grieving. Our online grief support platform provides valuable services and support that can help those dealing with grief and loss, so that they can spend more time healing mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our platform also provides resources for counseling and group support, which can help them navigate their grieving journey in a healthy and caring manner.
Help a friend or loved one through their grieving journey today by giving them the gift of help.