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Understanding the 5 Stages of Grief

By Expert HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed stages of grief that she believes that people go through whenever they experience a loss. Grief is defined as the feelings that someone experiences as a response to loss. In my previous blog I mentioned that because of the death of one of my grandmother’s I actually was stuck in the first stage of grief, denial. After coming to terms with my denial the day of the funeral I moved quickly through the other stages, skipping bargaining and ending with acceptance. The amount of time they experience each stage differs depending on the individual. The time spent in each stage can last from moments to months depending on the circumstances surrounding the loss. Finally if a person has a terminal illness they too will experience the stages of grief as they come to terms with the ending of their own life.

When someone experiences a loss they go through one or all of the stages of grief. The five stages of grief are:

1) denial and isolation

2) anger



5) acceptance

The first stage of grief -- denial and isolation -- is not accepting that the death has actually taken place. People sometimes can withdraw from normal social contact.

The second stage is anger. It can show up as anger at the person that caused the death as in an accident. It can show up as anger towards the person that has died. It can show up as anger towards a higher power or God for taking the loved one away.

The third stage is bargaining with a higher power to recreate the health in the person that is dying. Bargaining happens when a person tries to change the outcome of the dying person by offering better behavior themselves.

In the fourth stage is depression a person can feel a range of emotions including numbness, anger or anxiety. The final stage acceptance happens when the strong emotions begin to fad and the person accepts the reality of the loss.

It is important to create space in your life to experience ranges of emotions that come with the experience of grief. This is part of the normal process of life and death.

Add a Comment4 Comments

Dr Daemon Jones, Yes I was blessed and my husband did leave behind some life lessons that help me cope with everything I am going through now I've learned that I need to take time to enjoy life and take care of myself much better then I did and not let people stress you out. Thank you, I was so pleased to see this article it really does help a person understand what they are feeling deep down inside to figure it out. I lost my mother in 2010 and my sister 6 months later and my husband in 2007. I really understand these steps of grieving.

August 25, 2011 - 9:33am
Expert HERWriter

Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of your husband with us. It is difficult to see someone so full of life no longer have that energy. You were blessed to have him in your life.
Dr. Dae

August 25, 2011 - 8:43am

I myself was stuck at bargaining with god to take me instead of my husband who had terminal cancer because he was the type of guy that loved life to he fullest.He always had a smile,always would do for others,never let anyone bring him down.He enjoyed every season to the fullest,winter,spring,summer or fall.He was active riding his bike every where and any other activity he would join.Raised money for charites I tell you he simply amazed me.

August 20, 2011 - 5:33pm
EmpowHER Guest

There is no such thing as the stages of grief.

August 19, 2011 - 2:15pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.