We all experience grief at one time or another. The way this grief manifests from one individual to the next can vary widely, however.
It is thus complicated to try to generalize the process of grief for everyone. Nonetheless, psychologists have established a series of stages that are common to those experiencing grief.
Why learn about these stages of grief? Because they can help us better understand what we’re going through when we experience grief and thus better get through it.
So, read on to learn about the five stages of grief and how they can provide a deeper understanding of these complicated feelings following the death of someone you know.
Five Stages of Grief
If grief is hitting you or someone you know particularly hard, counseling might be your best bet. That said, many people have surmounted grief on their own, and learning about the stages of grief can help.
These five stages are generally considered to be denial, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance.
And if you have more questions regarding grief or would just like access to more high-quality resources, consider the offerings available through BetterHelp.
Denial. You may have heard about it when it comes to addiction. In general, denial is a first roadblock to recovery because it means we cannot properly face our problem (and therefore fix it).
The shock of losing a loved one often causes a person to stay locked in a state of denial. It can be tough to grapple with this new reality that lacks this person in it. Nonetheless, this stage must be overcome for any real progress to occur.
Ah, guilt. We all know this feeling. It can be horrible and feel like we have a weight in the pit of our stomach. But why would you experience guilt when someone dies if you didn’t have anything to do with their death?
Guilt is a quite common feeling during grief. For example, you may regret not having spent more time with this person. You might regret many things about the relationship you had while they were still alive.
Unfortunately, feeling guilty won’t help anything at all. You’ll have to come to peace with how things were left between you.
Anger is another common part of the grieving process. While you may experience these steps in any order, anger often follows denial and guilt. That’s because you may feel angry about feeling guilty, or angry at the deceased, or simply angry about the loss.
This anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as you can stay on top of it. Make sure you control your anger and don’t take it out on someone or yourself. You’ll need to find a healthy way to work through it.
Following anger, depression may set in. The loss of a loved one can make the whole world feel unreal and empty. You may feel like nothing matters and that your own life isn’t what you wanted it to be. You may be asking yourself all kinds of tough questions.
Fortunately, grief-based depression tends to pass with time. Unfortunately, depression can be really debilitating. So, make sure you take care of yourself and get the help you need.
It might take you weeks, months, even years, but one day you will wake up and recognize that you have come to fully accept the loss.
When you reach this stage, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is perfect. It simply means that you’ve come to a point where you can move on.
Getting Help with Your Grief
Grief can bring people way, way down. You might find that you need some external support, and that’s perfectly fine!
Consider reaching out to a good friend, close family member, religious leader, etc. And if you need further support, consider a licensed counselor. They are there to help people going through what you are facing, and you can even find therapists who specialize in grief therapy.
Life is full of its ups and downs, and grief can be a rollercoaster ride itself. Don’t stress if you are feeling lost or stuck in the grieving process. Generally speaking, you will get through it with time. Don’t be afraid, however, to reach out for the help that you may need to cope with it healthily.