What are the 7 stages of grief?

by | Aug 5, 2023 | Advices

Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something that is important to you. You may feel a variety of emotions, like sadness or loneliness. And you might experience it for several different reasons. Maybe a loved one died, a relationship ended, or you lost your job. Other life changes, like chronic illness or a move to a new home, can also lead to grief.

Everyone grieves differently. When you understand your emotions, take care of yourself, and seek support, you can heal.

The stages of the grieving process include shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance. People do not always go through the process in this particular order, and some steps last longer than others.

Grief symptoms largely diminish after 1-2 years, but they may reappear years later in response to certain triggers, such as birthdays. Although grieving is normal, if the symptoms interfere with daily life, it is time to talk with a professional who can support you. Grieving counselling is one such option.

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The 7 stages of grief

Grief is a natural experience that helps a person process the pain of loss and move toward healing. The stages of grief are not necessarily linear, which means people may not go through them in order. However, research shows that, in general, there are seven stages. They consist of the following:

1. Shock

This stage may involve numbed disbelief in response to news of a loss. It may serve as an emotional buffer to prevent someone from feeling overwhelmed.

3. Anger

During this stage, an individual may direct their anger toward the person who died, doctors, family members, or even religious entities. This replaces the numbness of shock and denial. It is important to address the anger.

5. Depression

At this stage, a person may experience feelings of emptiness and intense sadness. They may also withdraw from daily activities and things they once enjoyed. While this stage is difficult, it is an important step toward healing.  

7. Acceptance

This is the final stage of the grieving process. Acceptance does not mean people feel OK about a loss. Rather, it means they realize the loss is their new reality. They understand that while life will not continue as it did before, it will go on. This stage may involve reorganizing roles and forming new relationships. The grieving process has no set duration, and people move through each stage at varying rates. Symptoms of grief largely resolve after 1–2 years. However, this timeline is different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way of dealing with loss. Additionally, rather than experiencing a steady decline in grief, a person’s emotions tend to fluctuate over time and come in waves.

2. Denial

Denial may entail refuting the reality of the loss or any associated feelings. Once an individual accepts reality, they can move forward through the healing process. Shock and denial help people manage the immediate aftermath of a loss.

4. Bargaining

Bargaining involves thoughts such as “I will do anything if you take away the pain.” This stage may come at any point within the grieving process. It is frequently accompanied by guilt.

6. Testing

Testing is the process of trying to find solutions that offer a means of dealing with loss. Someone may drift in and out of other grieving stages during this time.

Different types of grief

Various studies describe the various types of grief. They include:

Anticipatory grief

This is what a person feels when they expect a loss that has not yet happened. It includes many of the same emotions someone experiences after a loss. Anticipatory grief is more likely in individuals with dependent relationships or limited social support.

‘Normal’ or common grief

Normal grief is a gradual progression toward acceptance. It happens about in 50–85%Trusted Source of people following a loss. Although people experience difficult emotions, they retain the ability to continue everyday activities. They might have emotional distress, such as crying, low mood, and longing.

Complicated grief

Complicated grief happens in 15–30%Trusted Source of people who experience a loss. It resembles conditions such as depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It may deviate from normal grief in the following ways:

Absent or inhibited grief: This is a pattern of manifesting little evidence of distress or yearning.
Delayed grief: This is a pattern where symptoms occur much later than is typical. Chronic grief: This is a pattern where symptoms persist over a prolonged duration. Distorted grief: This is a pattern of extremely intense symptoms.

Persistent, prolonged, or complex grief.

This is a type of complicated grief that involves intense sorrow after 12 months have passed — or 6 months for children and adolescents. The intensity and pervasiveness of the reactions can cause disability. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision recognizes prolonged grief as an independent disorder.

Grieving counseling near me

There is no right or wrong way of grieving and everyone goes through the stages in a different way. Meanwhile, help is available to support you to heal through this difficult time. You may be experiencing significant distress due to the grieving process.

Therapy tends to be effective as it provides you with a supportive environment, where you can express your feelings in the way that is most comfortable for you. You will also be helped with the knowledge that, if necessary, treatments exist to reduce the sense of anxiety that you feel.

How to find an affordable therapist near me?

Tailor made online therapy sessions exist. The more specialized the therapy is, the more difficult it is to find a therapist “near you”. Online or virtual therapy is worth it, and it works: experience shows that apart from being affordable and convenient, individuals can access the help they need, when and how they can best receive it.

The online platform betterhelp.com can be a good solution, where specialized professional therapists can provide you with the guidance and support that you need to work on the challenges brought about by the grieving process.




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