Stages of Grief

Grief is a very personal experience, and is as unique as the individual who is grieving. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying in 1969, providing a framework for helping terminally ill patients deal with their impeding deaths. She described 5 stages of grief, which are applicable to not only the dying, but to their families and friends. The stages can also be experienced by individuals when they go through a significant life change, such as a divorce.

The 5 Stages of Grief are as follows:

1. Denial- The individual does not accept the facts of the situation. Typically, people process the information that they are able to handle at that time.

2. Anger- This can be anger with oneself, with others, or with the "God" in which one believes. Anger is often linked to sadness, and may be exhibited during the depression stage (see below).

3. Bargaining- This is where one is willing to make a "deal" with their God. They may promise future change in exchange for life. In the case of a break-up, a person may bargain for some sort of continued friendship with their ex.

4. Depression- The individual is beginning to accept the reality of the situation, but has strong emotionsabout it. Sadness, regret, and fear are very typical of this stage.

5. Acceptance- The reality of the situation is accepted, without the intense emotion. Although a person is not "ok" with dying (or the death of a loved one), one is able to acknowledge the inevitable. Often, a dying individual is able to reach this stage before loved ones are.

It is important to know that these stages are not necessarily "sequential." Therefore, individuals may move through the stages in various ways. It is also common to "re-visit" a stage.

Because grief is so personal, friends and family may not understand one another’s experiences. It can sometimes be helpful to utilize the support of an online therapist in processing your grief, especially if you have become "stuck" at a particular stage.