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The 5 Stages of Grief: To Those Who Are Struggling

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”

Death and grief are inevitable. Though we may disagree on the many points in life, the permanence of death and the universality of fear is universal, with many people going through the stages of grief every day. At some point in our lives, we will all experience grief, whether it be a relationship loss, a death, or a loss of something of importance. 

Grief is a very personal experience. Everybody does not follow a particular “schedule” or “timeline” of grief, but, instead, some may become reclusive and withdraw from the outside world. In contrast, others may spend their sorrow partying in the nearest club. Although there are many ways to process the pain of a loss, the stages of grief and the feelings that other people may experience are shared and appear in many people worldwide.  

The Five Stages of Grief

1. Denial

The first stage in the stages of grief is denial. Although it may seem as if it is a very irrational stage at first, in psychology, denial is seen as a means of escape from reality and the truth at hand. Denial is a defense mechanism to evade the pain and suffering the grieving ones will experience. It is also common to feel that the lost person is nearby or even hear their voice. “Denial is not only an attempt to pretend that the loss does not exist. We are also trying to absorb and understand what is happening.” 

2. Anger

Anger is a natural emotion that can also happen when somebody dies. Many see death as a fierce and unfair event for somebody who gave love and acknowledgment to those who needed it. It also happens when people feel guilty towards their death for something they did or did not do. Anger, criticism (mostly towards themselves), rage, and guilt can leave people feeling alone and isolated when this is a time that calls for comfort, a connection, and love from the people around them. 

3. Bargaining

Grief is a time when one may feel hopeless, lost, and vulnerable to the many emotions that come along with it. Because of this, it is not uncommon to want some semblance of control and routine to the life that is collapsing around them. Around this stage, it is not uncommon for others, mainly religious people, to pray to a higher power or deity to make a deal or a promise to, in return, receive relief from the grief experienced. 

This is also the stage where people rest on their faults and mistakes that they have made towards the person. They grieve for the times that they have lost, hurt, and left them, magnifying the grief even further. Imagining the future and the past is a form of nostalgia. They are just using it to escape the present. 

4. Depression

Depression, especially depression due to grief, is the spiral of grief consuming them whole. It is the stage where the ocean of nothingness swallows them in its vast darkness and where they feel their pain and sadness even more. 

This is when one is attempting to process their feelings healthily. Around this stage, people begin to feel the loss of their loved ones as they accept the certainty that the person they love is gone and the unavoidable escape of the feelings experienced. 

While denial, anger, and bargaining are on the “active” side of grief, depression is a “quiet” stage due to the tendency of people in this stage to withdraw from personal interests and social events and to reach out to others even less. This stage is a natural stage, but if one is struggling with it, please reach out for help. 

5. Acceptance

The last stage is acceptance. Some people may mistake this stage as where the person has moved on. Instead, it means that the person has accepted the death and feelings they have experienced. Some may no longer feel the emotions of loss, sadness, and regret, but people learn in this stage to reconstruct their lives fully again and accept the new way of life, even without the person they love by their side. If more comfort or help is needed, here are some books for any type of loss by Vonne Solis that centers on grief, death, and change.  

Vonne Solis

Vonne Solis is an author, grief advocate, healing practitioner and bereaved parent serving the bereavement community, with a special interest in helping newly bereaved parents and those who have lost a loved one to suicide.