Grief is an unavoidable part of life. Any traumatic loss can result in grief, from a loved one passing away to the sudden ending of a relationship. You can also grieve after major life events, like being diagnosed with a medical illness or becoming recently unemployed.
Stages of Grief
People experience grief differently, and each type of grief can have a different effect. There are five main stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
1. The first step in the grieving process is denial. A person in denial feels shocked or numb to the traumatic event or loss. This is a defense mechanism used to manage overwhelming emotions. Thinking “this isn’t real” is only temporary.
2. When the comfort of the denial phase subsides and reality sets in, you enter the anger phase. People in this stage often feel frustrated with the situation — or the world. They may act angrily towards other people during this point in the grief cycle.
3. In the bargaining stage, thoughts move from anger to dwelling on the past. People in this phase will begin to think of ways that they could have prevented the traumatic loss or event, even if these thoughts are illogical.
4. After realizing that nothing can change what happened, people often slip into a depressive state. They begin to experience symptoms of depression like overwhelming sadness, loss of appetite, low self-esteem, and sleeping problems.
5. After going through the emotional four stages of grief, the final stage is acceptance. While the sadness won’t go away, individuals eventually realize that nothing can be changed and return to living life.