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The 7 Stages of Grief

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The 7 stages of grief are a well-known psychological model that helps people understand the process of bereavement. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first proposed the model in her book, “On Death and Dying.”

What are the 7 stages of grief:

  1. Shock and Denial
  2. Pain and Guilt
  3. Anger and Bargaining
  4. Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness
  5. The Upward Turn
  6. Reconstruction and Working Through
  7. Acceptance and Hope

The seven stages of grief do not necessarily occur in a specific order, and some people may experience more or fewer stages than others. This article will discuss each stage in detail and provide tips for coping with grief.

Stage 1 of the 7 Stages of Grief: Shock and Denial

Most people react to the loss of a loved one with an element of disbelief. Some may even deny reality at first. This experience is the first of the 7 stages of grief known as Shock. It is a natural defense mechanism that allows us to cope with the overwhelming emotions we are feeling. It’s not unusual for individuals in the early phases of grief to feel dull and distant from society. You should allow yourself or someone you know experiencing grief space to process their emotions. Please encourage them to share their feelings and validate them.

Stage 2: Pain and Guilt 

As the shock begins to wear off, reality starts to set in, and the pain of our loss is felt. This stage can be a very overwhelming experience, especially if the death was sudden or unexpected. Guilt is also a common emotion during this stage as we may start to question things we said or did with that person. It is normal for someone in this stage to wonder if they could have done something to prevent the loss or to engage in self-blaming.

Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining

Anger is often the next stage of the 7 stages of grief after pain and guilt. We can become frustrated with ourselves, the person who died, the world, or even God. You might be wondering how you’ve come to be in this situation. Some who miss a loved one become enraged toward them and blame them for leaving.

During this period, some grieving individuals may attempt to bargain with the universe for the opportunity to have things turn out differently. Like the stage before, the emotions that come with this stage are natural, and you should allow yourself to feel them. It may also be helpful to challenge irrational beliefs tied to the grief process and not to let them spiral into anything worse.

Stage 4: Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness

During the fourth stage of the 7 stages of grief, individuals often begin to think about the loss they’ve endured and how it has altered their life. During this period, the reality of the loss may be more apparent since attempts to negotiate for additional time are unsuccessful.

Many people withdraw from others during this phase to deal with their own sadness. A person may also be unsure about their future. This is the stage in which guidance from others during the grievance process is most crucial. While their emotions remain valid, it is better to comfort and support the individual than allow them to withdraw into their own space for extended periods.

Stage 5 of the 7 Stages of Grief: The Upward Turn 

As you get used to life without your loved one, it becomes calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms decrease, and your “depression” begins to lift somewhat.

This is the stage in your grief journey where you may begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a midway between the various grief symptoms you’ll encounter, but it’s one that you may build on.

You’ll still have good and bad days, but the bad days will become less frequent, and the good days will begin to outnumber them. You’ll start to feel more like yourself again and be able to think about your loved one without feeling so overwhelmed with sadness.

This is a crucial stage in your journey because it’s when you’ll start to see some hope for the future. Taking advantage of this feeling and using it to propel you forward is essential.

Stage 6: Reconstruction and Working Through 

The sixth stage of the 7 stages of grief is Reconstruction and Working Through. During the rebuilding and working through phase, a person who lost a loved one begins to deal with the aftershocks.

This stage is just as essential to the grieving process as the others. It does, however, appear to take a unique path; in this phase, you may begin to feel more in control of your destiny. It is best to support this development as it is a sign of growth and of better days to come.

Stage 7 of the 7 Stages of Grief: Acceptance and Hope 

During this, the final of the seven phases, the grieving individual learns to accept and manage their circumstances. Acceptance does not always imply immediate joy.

Given the pain and turmoil they have experienced, they can never truly return to the carefree, untroubled existence that was before this tragedy. However, they feel like they can see a path forward and may start to look ahead and prepare for the future.

Eventually, they can think about their lost loved ones without pain. They may become sad, but the wrenching pain will be gone. They’ll anticipate more enjoyable times ahead and perhaps even pleasure again in the act of living.

Learn about preparing a Life Plan to make it easier on loved ones when you pass.