What Are the Stages of Grief?
Your feelings may happen in phases as you come to terms with
your loss. You can’t control the process, but it’s helpful to know
the reasons behind your feelings. All people experience grief
differently. Though it it no longer considered the ideal way to
think about grief, you may have heard of the stages of grief:
- Denial: When you first learn of a loss,
it’s normal to think, “This isn’t happening.” You may feel shocked
or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of
overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.
- Anger: As reality sets in, you’re faced
with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless.
These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward
other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with
a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too.
- Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell
on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are
“If only…” and “What if…” You may also try to strike a deal with a
- Depression: Sadness sets in as you begin to
understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of
depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel
overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely.
- Acceptance: In this final stage of grief,
you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although
you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your
Every person goes through these phases in their own way. You may
go back and forth between them, or skip one or more stages
altogether. Reminders of your loss, like the anniversary of a death
or a familiar song, can trigger the return of grief.