What Are the 5 Stages of Grief?

When a loved one passes away, we endure a painful new reality that can seem unbearable. Grief is complicated and we sometimes wonder if the pain will ever end. We may go through anger, confusion, sadness, or other emotions along the journey. A theory developed by a psychiatrist looks at five possible stages of denial and how they all play a role in grief.


The first stage of denial, according to the theory, is to minimize the pain of loss. While we process the loss, we are also trying to surviving emotional pain. It is hard to believe an important person in your life is gone so you will find any means possible to try and cover up and mask the pain. Reality shifts when someone dies. It can take the mind some time to adjust to the new reality. Denial is just an attempt to pretend the loss does not exist. We are also trying to absorb and understand what is happening. While we reflect on our experiences we shared with the loved one, we might wonder how we move forward in life without them. This is a lot of information to explore. Denial attempts to slow this process and risks us becoming overwhelmed.


It is common for people to experience anger after the loss of a loved one. We are trying to adjust to a new reality following emotional discomfort. This is much to process that anger may feel like a good outlet. Anger does not require vulnerability. It tends to be more socially acceptable than admitting we are scared. Anger is released and it can hurt other people, so it is better to provide comfort, connection, and reassurance for the journey.


When coping with loss, it is common to feel desperate to the point of being willing to do anything to minimize the pain. Losing a loved one can cause people to consider avoiding the pin of anticipated loss. Bargaining can come in a variety of promises including a promise to be better, prayers for healing, saying you will never get angry again if a friend’s life is spared, etc. When bargaining happens, we often look to a higher power to help us achieve our goals.


During the experience of processing grief, there is a time when things calm down and we look at our reality. Bargaining no longer feels like an option and we are faced with what is happening. We feel the loss of our loved one and the emotional fog lifts. We pull inward and sadness grows. We become less sociable and reach out less to others.


When we come to accept what has happened, it is not that we no longer want to feel the pain. We no longer resist what has happened and we let all the feelings be what they are. The emotional survival is still there but we are functioning at a different level. Everyone processes grief differently. You may or may not go through each stage or experience them. The lines of these stages are blurred. There is no time period suggested for any one stage. It is simply a matter of time before you are going to find your own way of healing and coping that works for you.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. Nature is an important component of recovery and healing. We strive to provide a place of enrichment that cultivates the inner as well as the outer journey of recovery. However you find your way to the Last Resort, we endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.