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5 Stages of Grief: How to Overcome Them

Updated on March 13, 2014
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What is the meaning of grief? Grief is a deep intense sorrow usually caused by the loss of something important, such as the death of a loved one. If you aren't careful, this feeling of emptiness and hopelessness could destroy your life. Grief isn't something that can be measured in volume or percentage, nor is it quantifiable in terms of emotional pain.

Every one of us will eventually experience grief so it isn't something that we can avoid. Because we can't avoid it, it is wise to learn how to cope with it, so that we can overcome it. Grieving your loss is hard enough already so how does one console a mother, father, sister, brother, friend and lover to overcome his or her grief stages? Are there words you can say to help alleviate their symptoms of grief? Unfortunately, no words can instantly erase a person's emotional pain. The few things that can heal a heart filled with symptoms of grief are time, love and the support of families and friends.

The 5 Stages of Grief

The 5 stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The combination of these 5 stages of grief is known as the Kubler-Ross Model. Some of these 5 steps of grief can occur in different order but it often happens in the following order:

Stages of Grief #1: Denial

When we experience the loss of something important to us, our first immediate reaction to the unfortunate news is often denial. Living in denial is one of the worse things you can do to yourself, because it prevents you from understanding and overcoming your symptoms of grief. The longer you stay in this denial state, the harder it is for you to move forward in life, since you still have a long way to go before you get to the acceptance stage. Being in a state of denial for too long can make you delusional and therefore it empowers your ego. Your ego is a part of your identity that loves to put you in a state of denial so that it can control you.

Stages of Grief #2: Anger

This anger stage often causes us to experience a lot of painful emotions, leading to emotional breakdowns. If we aren't careful, our anger may cause us to inflict pain onto our friends and family members. Anger is a negative emotion that affects us at a very deep level, even down to the level of our soul. Furthermore, being in a state of anger for too long can have negative health effects on our body; therefore, making it harder to overcome the steps of grief. When we are angry at something, it is usually something that we don't understand. To overcome anger, we need to seek appropriate knowledge and support, so that we can gather enough emotional power to overcome it.

Stages of Grief #3: Bargaining

This bargaining stage is the phase when we feel like we can reduce the negative effects of grieving through the act of bargaining. During the bargaining stage, we usually try to make some kind of deal to solve some of our issues, making our loss less stressful and painful. A great example of this is when newly divorced couples bargain to see who gets what.

Stages of Grief #4: Depression

No matter how much we deny, bargain and get angry, we will eventually reach the depression stage of grief. This phase of grief is where the enormity of the loss strikes some raw nerves. Now reality starts to sink in, causing us to really feel our emotional pain. Depression is by far the worst of the grief stages, because it makes us feel hopeless and detached from reality. In addition, it can cause other health issues, including but not limited to sleeplessness, loneliness, loss of appetite, feelings of self-pity and mental breakdowns. Each person deals with depression differently so the time period of getting over this phase of grief will vary. However, it is best to move pass this phase as soon as possible so we don't get consumed by hopelessness. If you are having a hard time overcoming this stage, you should seek support from friends and family members or an expert.

Stages of Grief #5: Acceptance

Getting to this last step of grief may seem like forever but it is a sign that we have overcome the hardest parts of the grief stages. To overcome our grief, we have to learn to accept our loss because this decision allows us to let go of something we can't have anymore. Letting something important go doesn't mean that we are trying to erase it from our memories or that we don't care about it anymore. It just mean that we have learn our lesson and have forgiven ourselves; therefore, it is time to move on.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-grief

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