Coping with bereavement - stages of grief

Understanding the 5 stages of grief & loss

Coping with bereavement - stages of grief

Understanding the 5 stages of grief & loss

5 stages of grief

It is important to recognise your feelings and give yourself time to adapt


In 1969 a Swiss-American called Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book in which she introduced the idea that a person who was grieving would pass through five different stages of emotions. Although it is important for someone who is grieving to recognise that they are on an 'emotional journey', it is not always helpful to interpret your feelings as a series of separate emotions which you should pass through in a specific order. Rather than disappearing over time, grief is better seen as something that you adjust to cope with. The feelings may always be there but you learn to grow with it and through it.

Stage 1 - Denial

After the inital shock of losing someone it is posible to enter a state of denial where you attempt to avoid coming to terms with what has happened. You may be in denial that your loved one has died or it may be that you are in denial about your feelings towards them.

Stage 2 - Anger

Having denied your feelings it may reach a point where this boils over into anger. This may be in part due to the frustration that you feel. This anger may be directed towards those around you, yourself or even the person who has died due to a feeling of abandonment.

Stage 3 - Bargaining

Where there is an attempt to 'turn back time' by questioning yourself - 'What if' things had been done differently, would they still be here? People who experience grief sometimes beat themselves up about events over which they had little or no control in an attempt to seek a compromise which in reality is not possible. 

Stage 4 - Depression

Depression is a sense of hopelessness and general apathy towards everyone and everything. Tiredness can feel overwhelming and small problems may begin to feel like much bigger problems. At it's worst you may questions yourself 'what's the point?' or 'why am I here?'


It takes time to overcome depression and it is rarely something that you can do without help. Try to fight the lethargy by remaining active, even if this means just going for a walk. Talk to your Doctor and seek help from those around you or a support organisation.

Stage 5 - Acceptance

Where your emotions begin to settle and you acknowledge what has happened and begin to plan on how to move forward. Acceptance isn't that you forget what has happened but rather when you begin to work with your grief rather than against it. Over time you learn to adjust to your new feelings, they never really go away but you are able to see blue sky where once there was only clouds.