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Stages of Grief

Updated on August 12, 2018
Grief | Source


Grief is a natural, healthy part of life. It is an emotional reaction to a significant loss in one's life. It is hard to watch someone you care about go through the stages of grief, especially when the grief is caused by death. Trying to rush someone through the process can cost you and them dearly. Everyone needs to move though the different stages at their own speed. Trying to rush someone through can cost you the friendship or love of someone dear to you. It can also cause the person you are trying to help to withdraw and lengthen the process. There is no time-line for grief, everyone is different, but it will start getting better as time goes on. As a friend of loved one of someone who is going through the stages of grief, the best thing you can do is let them go at their own pace and be there when they need you.

I have you in my heart
I have you in my heart | Source

The stages of grief

There are differing opinions of the stages of grief. Some feel there are five and some say there are seven. I will be covering both so you can decide for yourself.

5 stages of grief

  1. denial - at this stage you deny the reality of the loss to avoid pain.
  2. anger - you lash out and lay the blame for you loss on others. Many times you become anger at the lost loved one for leaving you.
  3. bargaining - the person grieving tries to bargain with the powers that be. You try to trade your life for theirs or promise to change a behavior if only that person can be returned to you.
  4. depression - at this time you begin to fully realize how large your loss is and you become depressed. You tend to isolate yourself and focus on memories.
  5. acceptance - you begin to accept that your loved one is no longer there. This is where you begin to move on with your life.

There is no time limit to grief
There is no time limit to grief | Source

7 Stages of Grief

  1. shock and denial - you cannot accept the loss. You react with numbed belief, the shock helps you through the next few days.
  2. pain and grief - when the shock begins to wear off you begin to feel incredible pain. You may have guilty feelings or remorse about things you have said or done. Or things you did not say or do.
  3. anger and bargaining - you begin to take your anger and frustrations of the loss out on others. You begin bargaining for the return of your loved one.
  4. depressions, reflection, and loneliness - this is when you realize the greatness of your loss. You begin thinking constantly about all of the things you did with your loved one. You focus on memories and become filled with a sense of emptiness.
  5. the upward turn - you are now adjusting to life on your own. You have become calmer and your depression begins to lessen.
  6. reconstruction and working through - your mind begins to work to find solutions to problems in your life that have occurred because of your loss. You begin to put your life back together, financially and otherwise.
  7. acceptance and hope - you have accepted the loss and are now dealing with the reality of your life. You begin to look forward to good times and begin to find joy in living once more.

Grief is not a disorder
Grief is not a disorder | Source

Grief sentiments

  • Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. - From a headstone in Ireland
  • I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love. - Leo Buscaglia
  • Every human being must find his own way to cope with severe loss. The only joy of a true friend is to facilitate whatever method he chooses. - Caleb Carr
  • If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again. - Unknown author
  • Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pour through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. - Unknown author
  • Time is a physician that heals every grief. - Diphilus
  • God gave us memories so that we may have roses in December. - James M. Barrie

Coping With Grief

"[W]ounds of the spirit... are most gently soothed and made whole by the passing years. Under the old scars flows again the calm, healthful tide of life.... Under a great loss the heart impetuously cries that it can never be happy again, and perhaps in its desperation says that it wishes never to be comforted. But though angels do not fly down to open the grave and restore the lost, the days and months come as angels with healing in their wings. Under their touch aching regret passes into tender memory; into hands that were empty new joys are softly pressed; and the heart that was like the trees stripped of its leaves and beaten by winter's tempests is clothed again with the green of spring." ~George S. Merriam

When I first saw this quote by George S. Merriam I passed it on by. Why? I thought it was much to long to use in an article.

However I kept going back to it in my mind. I finally decided to include it in this article.

It is a hopeful quote, at least it is to me. It gives hope that one day the pain and grief you are feeling will soften into wonderful memories. You will be able to think of your loved one who has passed with love and amusement.

You pain will be soften and you will be able to think of them with love.

She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.

— George Eliot

© 2010 Susan Hazelton


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      lauraanngoodwin I am so sorry for your loss. I would be in your position if I lost my husband. Believe me it will get better.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I am so glad to have found this hub. Lost my husband unexpectedly 1 1/2 year ago. Kissed him good-bye early in the morning ( he was taking a day off to play golf). The next experience was a phone call from a paramedic requesting my husband's medical health, and my pointed question attempting to determine if he was coherant: the response; "no, and he has no heart rhythm."

      Initial shock became my friend and allowed me to drift through the

      arrangements, chaos, and denied good-bye. Initially friends and family surrounded me, however, my family needed to return to their homes. No members lived close and being one that has a problem with vulnerability and asking for help, I established my grief mantra. "I am fine, or doing good", when the opposite was true. No one in my family has had a loss so close to the heart. My parents are still together after 65 years and my 7 sisters and brothers are happily married and thriving.

      I went to 3 grief counseling sessions, took outrageous trips to deflect my grief, felt like I was running, running,running.....looking looking looking.....for him. I knew my reality was impaired, but my loss had to be filled with action. Down times found me in bed, no longer OUR bed, but in another room so I would not feel, smell or pretend him back. Very reclusive, not answering the phone, friends or those concerned became my normal.

      Within 13 months I sold our wonderful home, moved closer to family, but I remain reclusive and isolated. If I join my family, I travel to their homes. They do not visit - maybe once. My cats have become my companions, and neighbors have attempted on several occasions to invite me out. Appreciate all gestures and have participated in a few.

      Grief is deep and can be all encompassing. He was my best friend and our world's were centered on each other - vacations, dinners, weekends, nightly, etc.....I am still in love with our lives and memories, but sometimes feel to my detriment. Will there be a day that the isolation, staying in pj's and bed with fanciful thinking ever end.

      May need to find a new grief support group and work through devastating loss.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      pstraubie48, everyone takes a different amount of time for grief to move to the tolerable stage. They do need to be allowed to do this at their own speed. You are absolutely right - there is no getting over it, it's a getting throught it type of thing.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 years ago from North Central Florida

      Thanks for sharing this. Grief is a time of renewal for a life. If only those who must go through it recognize, address, and feel the stages, their lives can move forth. Sometimes others do not understand the grief process and say insensitive things, like. 'get over it, move on...'

      As you know it is not a 'get over it' situation. It is a feeling, dealing with, and confronting one's demons and deciding this pain is real but 'I can overcome it.'

      The real glorious part of it is...once one travels through the cycle of grief...there is a brighter day waiting.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      illgetalong, what most people forget is that you have the right to and need to feel sorry for yourself. After being with someone who is virtually your best friend, lover, husband, soul mate and other half it will take you time. Give yourself time to grieve. In a while you should be able to think of him without crying and smile while you remember a particular trip or time you have spent together. You have the right idea about rebuilding your life. You do need to take it one day at a time. You are the only one who knows when it's time to move on to the next step. You need to give yourself permission to grieve before you can move on. However, make sure you don't spend your life grieving as much as you are now. Someone who was as wonderful as it sounds like your husband was wouldn't want you to shut yourself off from life.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi KoffeKlatch gals.

      Thank you for your letter. I am going to two grieving classes in the middle of the week. The senior center does not appeal to me as I went one day and it depressed me even worse. I don't feel I belong there and it just got me so depressed. People don't know what to say to me anymore, I just pass the day as best as I can. I would not wish this on anyone. I am still asking why, and why. It is the hole in my stomach, the angst. I feel this is going to be the rest of my life. We had planned on growing old together and I don't think either of us discussed dying. We just did not. We had few friends and were content with each other. We found things to do although he was getting weaker and weaker. If he had gone to the doctor maybe we would have had a little longer, but he chose what he wanted to do. I think he chose to have quality of life rather than quantity. I can't imagine him going to the doctor and having tests and pins and needles and oxygen in him. He was very independent and private. This took me by surprise. How could such an intelligent engineer deny that he was so ill? We would fight when I asked him to go to the doctor, he did not want to spend the money was his answer. Just having answers from you makes me feel less alone, because I can pour my heart out without any condemnation.

      Thank you so much.

      I do talk to a couple of friends, but the problem is all I do is cry. I don't know where all the tears come from. Some have said I am feeling sorry for myself, well I lost my best friend. I have a nice house and am dealing with repairing all the damage the big winds in Southern California did. I do go out on walks and try to get out but nothing seems the same. As the seasons change and the shadows are different, it seems just a year ago I was content and happy. My hubby was here even though he was so thin, but he was here. Our dog died the third day he was in the hospital. I feel like my whole life just blew up in my face and I am in an unfamiliar world and don't know it. We were married almost 25 years and together for almost 31. We had such fun and traveled all over the place. I think I was feeling awful before he really collapsed. I knew our life had taken a radical change but I did not know how or when it was going to change back. I just existed for over a year and maybe more. Neither of us thought he was going to die, we just thought something was radically wrong, but since he refused to go to the doctor neither of us knew what was going on. Rebuilding my life is difficult right now, I can only go now one day at a time and they are the same. I know when I wake up I am alone. I am trying to reach out but no matter what I am still alone.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      lostintheofg, my heart goes out to you. My understanding is that the grieving period is different for each person. I hate to see you out there all alone. When my father died my mother was inconsolible. She seemed unable to motivate herself to go out of the house. I began encouraging her to go to the local senior citizen center. If all she did was sit and watch people at least she had made that first step out of the house. At the center she met people going through the same thing she was. It helped. I also pushed her into going to a grief group. They are out there everywhere. We found hers through the local hospital. I hope these suggestions will help you. It might also be good for you to visit your friend, sister or son. As far as it being too soon to try and find another person to share your life, well...that's something only you know. To be able to find a pal you need to be able to let a bit of the grief go or it would be unfair to them. Good luck and God Bless You.

    • lostinthefog profile image


      7 years ago from San Gabriel, CA

      My hubby died five months, three weeks and three days ago. I feel I am getting worse, more depressed and sad. I am crying more and more. I pray but I don't feel an answer yet. A friend who was helping me just moved to the beach, so I am more alone. My son lives at the beach and cannot come up, he has a driving issue. I have no other family. My sister lives in Utah. I feel so alone. I don't know what to do with myself. I have no interest in anything at all. I own three cats and I am living the same except without my hubby. I don't want to get out by myself, I am not used to it and am afraid. I feel so alone. I am doing exactly the same thing. When my hubby was here I was bored because I could not help him and I tried everything I could think of but he was so sick and would not go see a doctor. I feel depleted and wasting away. Please help me. Is it too soon to try and find another pal, just another person to share my life. Where do I find that?

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Moms-Secret, everyone goes through the stages of grief in their own way and time. The list you found on this hub is only a list of the most common way people travel through their grief. I think the feeling of grief lessens aas time goes on but I don't think it ever entirly goes away. It becomes a part of your precious memories that will cause you a pang in your heart every now and then. Good luck and my prayers are with you.

    • Moms-Secret profile image


      8 years ago from Central Florida

      :'( I don't know what stage I am in. I guess I am going in a different order or maybe combining steps. It feels impossible to get thru. People say that feeling will go away, I just don't see that far ahead.

      I came here to see what to expect. Thks.

    • Moms-Secret profile image


      8 years ago from Central Florida

      :'( I don't understand or know where I am...

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Mrs. J. B., I think the ones we lose will always be a part of us. Grieving doesn't really end it just gets easier to bear.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Tears... I still miss my best friend from the age of 5 that died last year of breast cancer. I still think about others too. I always do.. What a fabulous hub and one that is so useful.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Fluffy, what a wonderful person you are to be able to deal with death and dying on a regular basis. I have to applaud you for your point of view. Thanks for the rating.

    • Fluffy77 profile image


      8 years ago from Enterprise, OR

      Having worked with the dying and living with elderly dying family members too now. I relate and deal with these things on a daily sometimes hourly basis. Voted up and bookmarked you, wonderful hub!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Peggy, it is always hard to lose a loved one, especially a mother. I am sorry for your loss. You will always have the wonderful memories.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a terrific hub! I lost my dear mother over a year ago now and she was the last of the nuclear family in which I grew up. She was also my best friend. I am still grieving although the sting of it has lessened. Everyone has to die and like you so nicely pointed out...memories continue to live. Useful hub and voting it so.


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