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The Five Stages of Grief & Loss

The Five Stages of Grief & Loss

When a loved one passes away, it can be incredibly difficult to manage the grief, anger, fear, and sadness that come with mourning. However, all these feelings are completely normal, and feeling them may even be necessary for helping you move on.

Mourning is an incredibly personal experience. So, while learning about each stage of grief is important, you should also keep in mind that you may have varying feelings. No matter how you decide to deal with your grief, it would be best if you remembered to be patient and use resources like support groups and therapy.

Stage 1: Denial

The first stage of dealing with grief and loss is denial. Denial helps deal with the shock of the event and acts as a defense mechanism. Whether you are mourning a loved one or have grief over getting fired from a job, most people begin their emotional journey with denial. Denial can look different in each person, but here are a few examples of situations where a person may be in the denial stage.
  • Pretending to be emotionally sound when someone dies
  • Thinking someone will call and tell you there has been a mistake, and your loved one is still alive 
  • Staying busy to prevent needing to confront your feelings 
  • Speaking about your loved one in the present tense
  • Waiting for your boss to offer you the job after realizing they made a mistake
  • Believing your ex-partner will regret leaving you and want to get back together
In this stage, you may initially feel numb, go into shock, and have difficulty processing the truth. This stage allows you to process the situation within your own time.

Stage 2: Anger

When you cannot control the situation, you may feel angry that it happened in the first place. You may be surprised by this anger that is seemingly out of nowhere, but it is a very common emotion when dealing with loss.

This anger tends to be a redirection from the pain and sadness you feel. By expressing your sad emotions as anger, you will prevent yourself from feeling hurt while placing blame on something else. Unfortunately, the anger stage could also make you feel guilty for being angry, making you even more enraged.

Stage 3: Bargaining

The bargaining stage is unique because it can occur before and after the loss. For instance, if your mom is dying of cancer, you may start to think, “If my mom recovers, I will make sure to be kinder to her.” At the bargaining stage, you begin to rationalize the process in any way you can. By creating bargaining situations, you are trying to hold on to as much control as possible by hoping you can change it with an action.

Many people also start to bargain after the loss. For example, you may begin to think, “Maybe if I drove my girlfriend home, she wouldn’t have got into that car accident.” Bargaining can be a way to rationalize guilt while trying to regain control. Although this is a natural part of dealing with grief, it can be emotionally taxing.

Stage 4: Depression

At this stage, you will start to think realistically about the situation. When used in the sense of the five stages of grief, depression is not a mental disorder – it is simply an expression of sadness after a situation. While you may experience this stage as intense sadness, you could also feel unmotivated, not hungry, vulnerable, or confused.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Of course, the final stage of grief is acceptance. In acceptance, you will be able to acknowledge your loss and continue on with your life like normal. The sadness of a loss may take years to get over or even never truly pass, but once you have reached the acceptance stage, grief will no longer strike you.

Managing Grief and Loss With Elliant Counseling Services

Getting proper help will make it easier for you to process emotions. If you are in the process of experiencing grief and find it difficult to move on, it is best to find a trusted therapist who can guide you through the process. A good therapist will ensure you reach each stage and have a healthy mindset. They can also help you deal with trauma & PTSD from the event.

Elliant Counseling Services brings you healing therapeutic guidance through tested methodologies that give you the courage to embrace change. Elliant has some of the top depression & anxiety therapists in Colorado. They also help with the effects of chemical addiction and provide couple & family therapy and treatment for trauma & PTSD. We can help you in your journey to recovery by conducting the best forms of treatment for each individual uniquely. Elliant offers both in-person and telehealth options.

Embrace the courage to change and contact Elliant Counseling Services at  720-883-1480 or visit our website to schedule a confidential consultation at today!