In 1969, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book called Death and Dying. Her book introduced a concept called the five stages of grief, which explains the typical grieving process. The five stages of grief are the mind’s way of coping when someone near you dies. It’s a time when reality seems to be upended and people often seek clarity and certainty in their time of crisis.
Although everyone experiences grief differently, research dictates that most people go through some form of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance during the grieving process. Not everyone experiences every stage and they may not appear in order, but there are ways to get through the process, no matter how it unfolds.
Denial is the first stage of grief. You think your loved one can’t possibly be gone forever. You cannot comprehend something so permanent as the death of someone close to you. The brain wants to protect itself by denying what is happening. Denial is a necessary process that cannot be rushed, and everyone needs time to get through it in their own way.
People who deal with dying patients and their families are a great source of information, such as hospice nurses and mental heath professionals. They can even provide assistance before death, when someone has a terminal diagnosis and is navigating through the last months of life. Many people will even express denial at this point, not believing their parent or child could be so ill. Terminally ill patients and their families can search online for hospice care near me and connect with experts who will help them navigate this difficult period of their lives.
Per a CNN piece on the five stages of grief, anger is another widespread reaction to loss. People may be furious with the person who died, their cause of death, or even God, but anger is a critical tool when experiencing the pain of loss.
Anger is often rooted in feelings of helplessness and guilt, and humans would rather feel guilty than helpless. Expressing anger in healthy ways like yoga, running, using a punching bag, or even screaming can make it easier to get through this critical stage.
Those who are grieving often attempt to gain control through bargaining, usually with their idea of a higher power. Because people despise feeling helpless, bargaining can seem like a way to make something happen. Bargaining may take the form of promising something in exchange for taking the pain away.
People can feel the need to bargain intermittently for a long time. While muddling through the pain of grief, it helps to realize that bad things can happen no matter what anyone does.
According to Flux Psychology professionals, a deep sadness typically sets in once the earlier stages of grieving pass. After a person experiences denial, anger, and bargaining, they are left with reality and the full impact of their loss. We comprehend the finality of death and are exhausted with its impacts.
Depression associated with grief is not usually a long-term condition and typically lifts by itself. However, it may take time to work through. If necessary, look to family, friends, and mental health professionals for support.
At some point, most people reach the acceptance stage of grieving, which means they are dealing with the full reality of their loss. It does not mean they are happy or content about the loss of a loved one, but they are now at a place mentally where they’ve accepted the loss and can now move forward with life.
When we lose someone dear to us, our minds have trouble coping with death. We survive significant loss by going through these five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You may not go through each and every step, nor in this particular order, but you will likely experience some of these feelings while grieving. Have hope that you will one day reach a point where you’ll be able to deal with the loss and look ahead to better days.
If you’re interested in a previous post I wrote about grieving the loss of a parent, click here.
To your health,