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An Illustration of the Stages of Grief

Updated on October 31, 2020
tiffany delite profile image

Making sense of life and all of its trauma and sharing some of my thoughts and experiences along the way!

Stages of Grief: Both Personal and Universal

The Stages of Grief are universal enough that professionals have been able to identify and explain them as a process and still personal enough that they can look just a little - or a lot - different for everyone. One thing that we could probably all agree on is that grieving is - at least - uncomfortable and can really be downright terrifying and hard and awful.

One way I deal with grief is to create. Some of my first captured creations were audio recordings that my little brother and I made on a little plastic tape recorder with a microphone attached to the side when I was just a little girl. Now, I create videos on my digital camera or my iPhone, and my brother still stars in some of them!

In the videos below, I captured a piece of my own personal experience with the varying stages of grief. I recorded these videos over the course of about a year, and they weren't necessarily recorded in any particular order. The denial, depression, and anger videos were recorded while wrestling with (yet another) failed relationship - he dumped me. I'm over it. #acceptance. The bargaining video is inspired by my youngest son (and Tupac).

Acceptance Stage of Grief

Acceptance. The most desired yet the most elusive stage of the grieving process. The place that is the easiest to laugh in and the hardest to get to. While it is listed first in this article, it is definitely not the first stage of grief for me. Ever. There really would not be a need for the other stages if it was. Once we finally get there, once we have finally reached that highly desired and frustratingly elusive stage of grieving called acceptance, it is not like we automatically get to move in and set up permanent residence. No. While grieving, it is like denial, depression, anger, and bargaining become both our closest allies and worst enemies. The pain and discomfort of those stages make the most sense. Accepting whatever happened to throw us into this tumultuous process in the first place just seems wrong and unattainable. Even after attaining acceptance, I find that I sometimes slip back into the other stages, and I have to work my way back to the laughter and light.

What Acceptance May Look Like

LOL | Source

Denial Stage of Grief

Denial. This is the stage where I seem to always start out when I experience a difficult loss of any kind. In denial, it does not feel like whatever is happening is real. I wait for a phone call, an email, a message or sign of any kind from anywhere to indicate that whatever just happened was just a glitch in the system and everything will be back to regularly scheduled programming soon enough. I often just flat out refuse to believe what is happening, and I have been known to throw a big "NO" out to the universe during this stage of grieving. The universe responds with a resounding "YES" and a big slap in the face, however, and I eventually move on to the next stage of grief.

What Denial May Look Like

Depression Stage of Grief

Depression. For me, sometimes it is hard to differentiate from the depression I battle on a regular basis and the depression that settles in during this stage of grieving. Not that the two feel any different - or are any different for that matter. Depression is a very, very sad time. During this stage, I question my existence and the need to continue on with it. There is absolutely no energy for feeling anything other than sadness or doing anything but nothing. While feeling depressed, I spend the majority of my time in my basement - either in my bed or on the couch - under the covers in the dark, cool silence until the next stage in the cycle settles in.

What Depression May Look Like

Anger Stage of Grief

Anger. This is both my favorite and most dangerous stage of grief. It is both amazingly beautiful and incredibly scary. During this stage, I know I am the least in control, but it feels like I am the most in control. By this time, I have determined that there was no glitch, and I am tired of being sad about it. Strong, powerful energy surges through my body, and I do not care about what anybody else says or thinks or does. I feel alive again and able to do absolutely anything. I am learning to harness this angry energy to accomplish tasks that are forgotten while in denial and ignored while depressed.

What Anger May Look Like

Bargaining Stage of Grief

Bargaining. This is the stage where things can get super enlightening. For me, they can also get very creative as I work toward acceptance and peace. This is where we learn just exactly how far we would go to try to get back what we lost. What would we be willing to do? How long and hard would we be willing to pray or cry or scream? How much would we be willing to give up in exchange for even one moment of life before the loss? What would we be willing to say?

What Bargaining May Look Like

The Grieving Process is Personal

The grieving process looks a little different for everybody. There is no certain amount of time that is the proper amount of time to spend in each stage. There is no guarantee that once you have moved out of one stage and on to another that you won't return to a stage you have already processed through. You may process through all the stages in one day. You may process through all the stages several times in one day. You may take several days, or weeks, or longer to process through just one stage. Grieving is a very personal process so just take your time and go at the pace you need to go to process your grief. There is no shame in asking for help from friends, family, or professionals. There is also no shame in processing through it all alone.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Tiffany Delite


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