5 Stages of Grief

“The only cure for grief is action.” – C.H. Lewes

Most people have encountered grief at some point in their lives.  Whether it is grieving a death of someone close, grieving a loss of a friend or a loved one or helping someone else to go through this process, it is definitely never easy.

Grief, as a concept, has 5 stages and, until all 5 stages have been processed by the mind, the individual in question is unable to move on.

1. Denial

Denial is an automatic response of our brain to any loss.  This is when you cannot accept that someone is gone or something is no longer part of your life.  The denial stage can last a long time, as the affected person cannot grasp the reality of the situation. Turning to friends and family for support is imperative in this stage as they may slowly guide you to the next stage.

2. Anger

With time, pain is overtaken by anger, as reality finally sinks in!  Yes, someone has left your side.  A relative died. A loved one walked away from a relationship.  A friend vanished from your life.  It did happen!

Anger leads to many questions being raised but at the same time being left unanswered.  Why did the loved one have to leave you?  What changed? Why some of us die young? Why we still have no cure for some diseases?

In a death scenario, rationally we know that the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. In a break up of a relationship, the resentment and the blame are multiplied as we carry those feelings as a reaction to what has transpired.  Be angry.  Go to a secluded place and scream your heart out.  Cry and stomp your feet.  Let your anger get out without causing any physical pain.

3. Bargaining

“If only I tried harder…” we often hear ourselves say.  Do not try to make deals with G-d or shift the blame one way or the other.  You did what you felt was required and it was right then.  Do not question it now.

Things happen in life for a reason.  People leave us and we meet new ones, babies are born and elders eventually die.  There are some that die young, but just because we do not understand the reason for something, it does not change the outcome.

Stop the bargaining and the eating of yourself and the self-doubt.  It is not helpful. Quite the opposite, it is self-destructive.   

4. Depression

There are two types of depression, which are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret prevail. We worry about the future, the costs, the burial, and the practical issues with moving on.  The second type of depression is more subtle and private, where we prepare to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug and a shoulder to cry on.

In the depressed stage, getting out of bed is a hard struggle.  Nothing seems to matter.  No words can improve the way we feel.  This is the most dangerous of stages as depression can completely overtake a person’s existence, if not managed correctly.  For some, having a good support group of family and friends around them is enough. For others, medication may be required.  The most important thing to remember whilst dealing with depressed due to grief, regardless of the type of loss experienced, speak to others about your feelings, let your feelings and thoughts out.  Make yourself cry.  Make yourself talk.  Be empowered by those around you to move to the next stage and accept the loss.

5. Acceptance

Finally, there comes a point when you have no choice but to accept the truth.  The truth that you cannot always have what you want, that things may not work out the way you planned and that some people were not meant to be with you for the long haul.  And at last, you can now detach yourself from the past and start to move on and rebuild your life.

Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal experience. Rarely someone can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you are going through. The best thing you can do is find someone who has experienced what you have been through.  Rely on them.  Listen to them. Learn from them.  Allow others to be there for you and help comfort you through this process. Allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Do not resist, as resisting it only will prolong the healing process.

Two internationally acclaimed authors have discussed the process of moving on from the past to the future in their works. Dan Brown said that “sooner or later we’ll all have to let go of our past.” Nice and simple – learn to let go!  In addition, Jodi Picoult stated numerous times that “you can’t look back – you just have to put the past behind you, and find something better in your future”.

Deal with your grief in your own time, but remember that although the past and the people you have lost contributed to the person you are today, you do not live in the past anymore.  You live in today and building tomorrow – embrace it.

“Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.” – Steve Maraboli


About Jane Garber-Rosenzweig

I am a mother, a senior franchising and commercial lawyer, a writer and a social media enthusiast. I live a very busy lifestyle but believe that you need to take time to ‘stop and smell the roses’. I also believe in taking educated risks and celebrating all achievements in life, regardless of how big or small they are. I am a lateral thinker and an optimist. My goal in life is to ensure the saying “we make our own destiny” becomes a reality.
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