The Five Stages of Grief

Whether you’re coping with the death of a loved one or dealing with a breakup, there’s no denying that emotions can be overwhelming and confusing. There is also no denying that we all go through different stages when grieving for our loss. This article will talk about the five stages of grief and how to plan your recovery after going through each stage in order to get on with life again.

The Five Stages of Grief is an emotional response that follows when someone suffers from death, divorce or another type of loss. It is a process that everyone goes through to some degree, but the time frame and intensity vary from person to person.

The five stages of grief are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance. The order is not fixed with one stage following another in a predictable pattern. Rather it varies from person to person or moment to moment.


The first stage of grief is denial, which can last from hours or days up to weeks. The immediate reaction to the loss is to deny its reality. The individual may even make statements such as “This can’t be happening!”, or ask others, “Is this real?”

Stage 1: Denial


The anger stage of grief is characterized by negative or even violent thoughts and feelings that may lead to destructive behavior. The grieving person often thinks “I can’t believe this happened” and “Why me?” These are natural reactions to the pain of losing someone or something important.

This stage usually occurs soon after a loss, when there is still some shock and disbelief about what has happened. Anger is a healthy reaction that can help the person adjust to the loss.

Stage 2: Anger


Bargaining is the third stage of grief. It is a time when those who are grieving may try to bargain with their higher power, such as God or Allah, in an attempt to undo the death of a loved one. It is also common for people to bargain with themselves, trying to convince themselves that they are not feeling the full effects of their loss because they have hope that it will be undone. For example, a widow may try to convince herself that her husband is still alive because he was not cremated or buried immediately after death and his body has not been found.

Stage 3: Bargaining


Depression is characterized by an inability to experience pleasure in the activities that one previously found enjoyable. This can lead to a decrease in appetite, sleep disturbance, weight loss or gain, fatigue and a difficulty concentrating.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines major depressive disorder as a period lasting at least two weeks where a person experiences a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities and has four or more other symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, lack of energy, poor concentration and feelings of hopelessness.

This stage can be marked by intense feelings of grief and sadness. People experiencing this stage may find it difficult to deal with their emotions or even feel like they no longer have any emotion at all. However, this is usually short-lived and many people will start feeling better once they reach the acceptance stage.

People experiencing this stage may try to “think positive” or comfort themselves if they find themselves thinking negative thoughts. They may feel guilty for feeling happy when a loved one has just passed away and therefore try to suppress their emotions.

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Stage 4: Depression


The final stage of grief is acceptance. This applies to the death of a loved one, an unexpected turn in life such as divorce or job loss and other tragedies that we experience. Acceptance means coming to terms with the reality of our losses and gaining a new perspective on life.

Stage 5: Acceptance

When grief doesn’t go away

The grief process can’t be rushed. It is important to find ways to express your grief, such as crying, talking with friends or family members about the loss, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you won’t feel sad or angry about your loss. It means allowing yourself to work through these emotions and find a healthier way of coping with them, like by staying active and participating in activities you enjoy.

Grief is not something that goes away quickly or easily. In fact, it may take a long time for you to accept your loss and feel better.

Complicated grief

Complicated grief is difficult to understand because it can vary from person to person. Some people may go through the loss of their loved one without ever having any symptoms or feelings, while others might feel ongoing physical and emotional pain.

Some people might experience complicated grief after the death of a loved one who was not biologically related to them, while others may feel it following their own death. The length of time that someone experiences complicated grief can also vary greatly, with some people experiencing symptoms for just a few weeks or months following the loss.

People who are dealing with complicated grief might have difficulty with day-to-day life and may even experience depression or anxiety, as well as having more difficulty adjusting to new situations.

The majority of people who are grieving after the death of a loved one will go through the five stages of grief.

The difference between grief and depression

Depression is a mood disorder and grief is not. Grief can sometimes lead to depression, but it’s important to remember that they are different things.

Symptoms of grief

Shock and disbelief, feeling numb or being unable to cry, crying too much or not at all. Guilt that you feel because a family member did something wrong and died is normal

Anxiety and depression aren’t necessarily caused by grief, but they can be. It’s normal to feel sad for a while after someone dies, especially if the person was important in your life.

Grief can last a long time and may seem like it will never go away. It’s hard to know how much grief is “normal.” Grieving takes different amounts of time for each person, but if your grief seems too strong or goes on for a long time, you may have depression. It’s normal to want answers when someone close dies, even if there aren’t any answers that make sense or can ever be found. Sometimes, anger is a normal reaction to the death of someone close because you feel like something bad should not have happened or that things could have been different.

When to seek professional help for grief

If you are having problems with daily functioning or if your grief is interfering too much with your life, it may be time to seek professional help.

Need to talk? Contact Samaritans –

Or call your local GP

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