Question

Grief & Emotional Health

What are the common stages of grief?

A Answers (4)

  • ACharles Sophy, Psychiatry, answered

    Denial-"this can't be happening to me", looking for the former spouse in familiar places, or if it is death, setting the table for the person or acting as if they are still in living there. No crying. Not accepting or even acknowledging the loss.

    Anger-"why me?" feelings of wanting to fight back or get even with spouse, anger at the deceased, blaming them for leaving.

    Bargaining-bargaining often takes place before the loss. Attempting to make deals with the spouse who is leaving, or attempting to make deals with God to stop or change the loss. Begging, wishing, and praying for them to come back.

    Depression-overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self-pity, mourning loss of person. Feeling a lack of control, feeling numb, or feeling suicidal.

    Acceptance-there is a difference between resignation and acceptance. You have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly. Realization that it takes two to make or break a marriage. Realization that the person is gone (in death) that it is not their fault; they didn't leave you on purpose. Finding the good that can come out of the pain of loss, finding comfort and healing.

  • ADavid Kessler, Hospice & Palliative Care, answered

    The Five Stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance

    My mentor and co-author, Elisabeth Kübler Ross, identified the stages of death in her ground-breaking book, On Death and Dying. I was privileged to co-author with her the follow-up book, On Grief and Grieving, finding the meaning of loss through the five stages. The stages have evolved since their introduction in 1969. They have been very misunderstood over the past four decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages.

    The stages are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.


    The five stages:

    Denial

    Anger

    Bargaining

    Depression

    Acceptance

     

  • AMarty Tousley, Psychology, answered
    You've asked about the common stages of grief. What you may be thinking of are the stages of dying originally described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her still popular book, 'On Death and Dying.' Since that book was first published (in 1969), many people have taken her findings much too literally, expecting the dying process to occur in neatly ordered stages, one following the other. The stages of dying originally described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross are: 1) Denial and Isolation, 2) Anger, 3) Depression, 4) Bargaining, and 5) Acceptance. As wonderful as her groundbreaking work in death and dying was, her "stages" model was never meant to apply to those who are in mourning. Her studies were focused on patients who were terminally ill and dying. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake you will find repeatedly in the literature still today. But there has been a wealth of research done since Kubler-Ross' pioneering work that focuses specifically on bereavement, loss and grief. We now know that grief is the normal response to the death of a loved one, and it doesn't happen in neatly ordered "stages" as such. Most of us who specialize in grief counseling prefer to think of grief as the personal experience of the loss, and mourning as a process (not a single event) that can affect us in every dimension of our lives: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and financial. Everyone's grief journey is unique, and there is no specific time-frame for it. Although grief is different for each individual, having the support of others and knowing what reactions to expect and how to manage them can be very helpful.

  • ADiscovery Health answered

    In her 1969 book, "On Death and Dying," Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross outlined five stages of grief that most people can expect to experience when facing a terminal illness or dealing with death. Those stages are:

    1. Denial: In the first stage, there is an outright refusal to accept the circumstances. Often, it causes the bereaved to pull away from family and friends
    2. Anger: In the second stage, anger may be directed at the circumstances, the world, the person who died or others
    3. Bargaining: In the third stage, bereaved individuals attempt to make "deals" with God or another higher power to ease their pain, or reverse the loss altogether
    4. Depression: In the fourth stage, there is typically depression and feelings of numbness
    5. Acceptance: In the fifth and final stages, the bereaved is finally able to accept that the loss has occurred and to move on

    There are other variations of Kubler-Ross' stages of grief put forth by other psychologists, but most of them retain a similar framework.

    These stages are simply an educated idea of how grief tends to play out, not a rigid rulebook. If you skip a stage altogether, then you skip a stage -- no one will make you go back and start over.

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