Grief is a complicated process that every individual goes through when they experience a significant loss. These losses can come from losing a loved one, a relationship, or any other experience that someone may need to grieve. However, the seven stages of grief are not something that you naturally know but are instead stages that individuals have come up with to explain what they believe many people experience during times of grief.
In this article, we will outline what the seven stages of grief are, what they mean, and how you can move through them.
What are the seven stages of grief?
While the seven stages of grief theory is somewhat debated, it’s used as a common tool for understanding what a person might go through after a significant loss. Here are the seven stages in the grief process:
- Shock and Denial
- Pain and Guilt
- Anger and Bargaining
- Reflection, Loneliness, and Depression
- The Upward Turn
- Reconstruction, Working Through, and Acceptance
Now that we’ve listed out what the seven stages of grief are, let’s take a closer look at each stage.
Stage 1: Shock and Denial
This stage takes place immediately after the loss. It’s the moment when you first hear the news, and you may feel like you’re in a daze. You may even feel like what you’ve heard couldn’t possibly be true, especially if you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one. It’s common to feel like you’re numb to the world, and you may even become detached from reality.
Stage 2: Pain and Guilt
During this stage, the numbness of the shock wears off, and reality starts to set in. You may find yourself incredibly upset, and it’s common to start blaming yourself or others for the loss. You may also experience other physical symptoms such as headaches or an upset stomach.
Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining
This stage is often one of the most difficult. It’s common to feel intense anger, which can be directed at yourself, others, or even the universe. During this time, you may also start bargaining with whatever higher power you believe in, trying to regain some control over the situation.
Stage 4: Reflection, Loneliness, and Depression
During this stage, the initial intensity of the pain may start to decrease. However, this can also lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. You may find yourself reflecting on the loss and wondering what you could have done differently. Feeling depressed is common during this stage.
Stage 5: The Upward Turn
This stage is where you start to emerge from the darkness. You may find yourself accepting the reality of the situation and realizing that life must go on. You may also start to look ahead to the future and start planning for it.
Stage 6: Reconstruction, Working Through, and Acceptance
This stage may be the one where you start to rebuild your life after the loss. You may start to take action and make changes to your life to accommodate the loss. During this stage, you may also come to accept what has happened and start to move on.
Stage 7: Hope
This stage is where you start to look toward the future with a sense of hope. You may start to feel like you can move on and even thrive despite what has happened.
The importance of the seven stages of grief
The seven stages of grief can be invaluable in helping people understand what they’re feeling during a time of loss. Being able to identify what stage you’re in can help you know what to do next and what to expect.
How to move through the seven stages of grief
Moving through the seven stages of grief can take time, and everyone’s grieving process will be different. However, here are some things that may help you during each stage:
- Shock and Denial
- Talk to someone about what has happened.
- Try to stick to your regular routines as much as possible.
- Don’t rush to make any major decisions.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions and cry if you need to.
- Try to let go of any guilt or blame you may be feeling.
- Remember that it’s okay to ask for help.
- Find healthy ways to release your anger, such as taking it out on a punching bag or talking to a therapist.
- Be aware of your bargaining tendencies and try to remind yourself that some things are out of your control.
- Take the time to reflect on what has happened and why it’s affecting you the way it is.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or a therapist if you need to talk.
- Find healthy ways to cope with your depression, such as exercising or talking to a professional.
- Focus on the positive things in your life.
- Try to find joy in small moments.
- Look into activities that could bring you a sense of fulfillment, such as volunteering or taking up a new hobby.
- Take steps towards building a new future for yourself, whether it’s starting a new career or moving to a new city.
- Let go of any attachment you may have to the past.
- Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that healing takes time.
- Start to focus on your goals for the future.
- Find ways to be grateful for the simple things in life.
- Remember that it’s okay to feel happiness and joy again after a period of grief.
FAQs about the seven stages of grief
What is the purpose of the seven stages of grief?
The purpose of the seven stages of grief is to help individuals identify what they may be feeling during a time of loss. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a tool that you can use to better understand what you’re experiencing.
Can you experience the stages of grief out of order?
Yes, it’s common for individuals to experience the stages of grief out of order or even repeat stages. Everyone’s grieving process is unique.
How long does the grieving process usually last?
The grieving process is different for everyone, and there’s no set timeline for how long it will last. Some people may only grieve for a few weeks, while others may take years to fully process their loss.
Can you get stuck in one of the stages?
Yes, it’s possible to get stuck in one of the stages of grief. If this happens, it may be helpful to speak to a therapist or other mental health professional.
Grief is a natural part of life, but it’s not something that we’re necessarily born knowing how to handle. The seven stages of grief can be a helpful tool in understanding what you may be experiencing during a time of loss. Remember to be kind to yourself during this time and seek help if you need it.