What Are The 7 Stages Of Grief? - Joshua York Legacy Foundation

What Are The 7 Stages Of Grief?

Oct 10, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

What Are The 7 Stages Of Grief?

As painful as grief is, it is a natural and necessary response to loss. It is a process that allows us to come to terms with our new reality and make peace with the past.

There are 7 stages of grief that Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first proposed in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. These were initially five stages, but she later added two, which comprised the seven grief stages.

These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, acceptance, and healing. These stages are examples of emotions a grieving person may experience after a loss. Grief can have a devastating effect on mental health, but it is possible to overcome it and heal.

In this blog post, we will explore the 7 stages of grief in more depth. We will discuss what each stage entails and how to get through them. We will also provide helpful resources for those who are grieving.

What Is Grief, And How Does It Feel?

Depressed young man sitting on the sofa in the living room and contemplating life.

Grief is a natural emotion to experience when going through a loss. It can be triggered by the death of a loved one, a breakup, or any other type of loss. Grief can be excruciating and overwhelming, and it can affect our mental health.

Grief can feel like a range of difficult emotions, from sadness and despair to anger and frustration. It can be challenging to cope with these intense feelings, and we may feel like we are going through the stages of grief out of order.

Grief is a personal experience, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. You may experience one, two, or all of the stages. You may move back and forth between stages.

When grieving, it is essential to be patient and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. However, grief that lasts for a long time, or interferes with your ability to function in day-to-day life, may be a sign of complicated grief. Complicated grief may require treatment from a mental health professional.

The Seven Stages Of Grief

Mid adult woman sitting home alone, worried.

Shock And Denial Stage

When we first experience loss, it can be difficult to believe it has happened. This is when we try to make sense of what has happened, and our brain refuses to accept it. We may feel numb and disconnected from our emotions.

This is a defense mechanism that our brain uses to protect us from the pain of grief. In this stage, we may also feel like we are in a dream or that this is not real. The common emotions in this stage are denial, disbelief, and shock.

Example: “This can’t be happening, it’s not real….” or “I’m in a nightmare, I’ll wake up soon.”

Pain And Guilt

As the reality of our loss sets in, we may start to feel intense pain and sorrow. We may also feel guilty for things we did or didn’t do.

These feelings are normal and part of the grieving process. Common emotions in this stage are guilt, anger, sadness, and despair. Words like “Why did this happen?” or “It’s my fault” are common.

Example: “I should have been there for them; I could have prevented this…”

Anger And Bargaining

We may feel angry as we try to make sense of our loss. We may be mad at ourselves, the person who died, or the world. We may also start to bargain in an attempt to change the situation.

A bereaved person may seek reason where there is none and feel they are to be blamed for what happened. For example, we may say, “if only I had…” or “I would do anything to…” or “I wish I had…”. You start to question your worth and existence and feel like you want to take back control.

Depression

In this stage, we may feel hopeless and helpless, like happiness is nowhere in sight. We may lose interest in activities that we used to enjoy. We may withdraw from friends and family members and drown ourselves in deep sadness.

Example: “I’ll never be happy again,” or “What’s the point?” or “Nothing good will ever happen to me again.”

We may also have difficulty sleeping, eating, or concentrating. These feelings are normal and part of the grieving process, but if they last for a long time or interfere with our ability to function in day-to-day life, we may be experiencing clinical depression. We should seek help from a mental health expert, especially one that specializes in grief counseling.

The Upward Turn

In this stage, we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We may feel more hopeful and have more energy; our physical symptoms lessen, and depression begins to lift slightly. For example, “I can get through this” or “I just need time; I will be fine.”

We may also start to reconnect with friends and family and get back into our hobbies and activities. We might not jump right into this stage, but with time and support, we will start to see the positive side of things again.

Reconstruction And Working Through

In this stage, we begin to accept the loss and rebuild our lives. We may find new meaning and purpose in life. We may also start to form new relationships. This process takes time, and we may never completely “get over” the loss, but we can learn to live with it.

You’ll be able to get through the days when the anguish feels like it might overwhelm you by using the coping strategies you’ve developed throughout the stages of grief.

Example: “I can’t change what happened, but I can make something good come out of it.”

Acceptance And Hope

This is the final stage in this grief model. In this stage, we come to terms with our loss and accept it has happened. We may still feel sad sometimes, but we can move on with our life.

We may also find new meaning and purpose in life. Soon, the pain of grief will start to lessen, and we will be able to remember the loss with fondness instead of sorrow.

Example: “I can’t bring them back, but I can honor their memory.” or “We had some good times, and I will cherish those memories.” last

How Long Do The 7 Stages Of Grief Last?

A woman worried about something

There is no timeline for grief, and everyone experiences it in their way. Some people may move through the stages quickly, while others may get stuck in one stage for a long time. It is essential to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling.

The Effects Of Grief On Mental Health

Though grief is a natural and normal response to loss, it can harm our mental health if not handled well. Some of the effects of grief on mental health include:

Anxiety: We may feel anxious about the future or worried that something terrible will happen again.

Obsessive thoughts: We may start to fixate on the person who died or the circumstances of their death.

Prolonged grief disorder: This is a condition where grief lasts for more than six months and interferes with our ability to function in day-to-day life. This is a rare condition, but if you are experiencing it, you should seek help from a mental health professional.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): We may experience flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts about the event.

Substance abuse: When grieving, some people may use drugs or alcohol to cope with the pain.

Death thoughts: We may start to have thoughts about death or suicide. You may feel like life is not worth living without the person who died.

How To Overcome Grief

If you are struggling with grief, there are many things you can do to cope with the pain and start to heal. Some things you can do to overcome grief include:

Be Nice To Yourself

Give yourself time to grieve, and don’t try to force yourself to “move on” too quickly. Do not be afraid to cry or express your emotions. Also, seize from blaming yourself for things you think you could’ve done differently.

Talk About Your Feelings

Talking about your loss can be very helpful. Bottling up your emotions can make them feel more intense. Find a friend or family member who will listen to you and offer support. You can also join a grief support group or see a therapist.

Write About Your Experiences

Writing about your thoughts and feelings can help you process them and may be therapeutic. You could start a journal or blog.

Find A Creative Outlet

Expressing yourself through art, music, or writing can be a helpful way to cope with your grief. Pick up a hobby and stay consistent with it.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood. Try to get outside and get some fresh air every day.

Make Time For Yourself

Grief can be exhausting. Make sure to take breaks and do things that make you happy. Taking a bath, reading a book, or watching your favorite movie can help you relax and recharge.

Be Patient With Yourself

Healing takes time. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to grieve at your own pace.

Get Involved In A Support Group

There are many grief support groups available, both in person and online. This can be a great way to share your experiences with others who understand what you’re going through.

Help Others

Doing something nice for someone else can help you feel better.

Bottom line

Losing a loved one or dealing with a major life change can be distressing. It’s a common experience that everyone faces. Most people who experience a significant loss or change have a period of sorrow, numbness, or even anger or guilt. With time, those feelings ease, and moving forward with life becomes possible.

If you are experiencing grief, it is vital to seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals. There are also many resources available to help you through this difficult time. There are support groups, therapy, and hotlines available to help you. But importantly, allow yourself to grieve, feel all the emotions, and know when to seek help.

Are you going through a grief process? If you need someone to talk to, please contact us.

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