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What Are The 5 Stages Of Grief And Loss?

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You may have heard about the five stages of grief but what are they are what do they mean? Well here we'll go through them and see how we react after the loss of a loved one.

They can go in the most common order but this doesn't happen to everyone. You can also switch back and forth between stages at times. It's important to know that they are quite fluid as everyone deals with grief differently and what you're feeling may be different from someone else.

Rather than treating it as a tick off list, it's a better idea to see it as a reference point to how you may be feeling. The five stages of great are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Explaining the 5 stages of grief

1. Denial

Denial can happen before or after the loss of a loved one. Rather than out-and-out disbelief, a lot of the time your mind will struggle to accept the reality of the situation. At this stage, you may feel numb and unable to imagine the thought of life without them

It's important to give yourself time and talk it through with a loved one if needs be. If you're dazed and confused following a death then this is completely natural. It can be hard initially for your body to compute that you've lost a big part of your life.

2. Anger

Being angry and bitter following a death is to be expected. This could be anger at the person, anger with yourself or simply just angry that life has dealt you these cards. There will be times where you are simply angry without being able to pinpoint why. Life has dealt you a cruel blow and you're going to be angry about it.

It's a natural response from the body and one that often masks deeper feelings until you're ready to process them. Whether you want to scream on your own or speak to a friend, it's no bad thing to get this anger off your chest as long as it's not negatively affecting others.

3. Bargaining

You know what's happening and you know that you can't change it but many feelings of 'what if' can wash over your brain. You can start wishing the time back that you lost or bemoaning yourself for not seeing the signs that led to your illness.

It can be a way of trying to relive some pain your feeling from the loss. It's hard to make sense of what has happened and hard to accept that things happened the way they did. You can have constant thoughts of wishing you can turn back time and it's good to talk this through with your loved ones.

4. Depression

There comes a point where it feels as though the first three stages of loss overwhelm you. This can often lead to feelings of depression. This is characterized by emptiness and numbness at what has happened. This can cause you to withdraw, become very down and stop activities in which you used to find joy.

This immense sadness will ebb away over time and during this period, asking for help is more important than ever. If you have other loved ones dealing with the same loss then they can help you when you're feeling down and you can help them on days when you're feeling better.

At this time it's important to try and maintain a routine and do things that you usually love, such as playing sport or a hobby. There is also professional help out there if required.

5. Acceptance

This isn't the end of grief as the fact is, grief never ends. This is merely accepting that your life has now changed and feeling more contentment with the new life you now have. You've looked death in the eye and appreciated that it has happened.

You may still get low but you're no longer depressed, you're no longer making those internal bargaining arguments and while some bitterness will prevail, you're not as angry.

When you get to this stage you can often feel guilty as you're not in as much pain. It's important to remember that your loved one who passed away would desperately want you to be happy. They are gone but never forgotten.

Final thoughts

As we mentioned, these stages aren't a tick box exercise. They can come and go in waves and in any order. It's a good idea to appreciate which stage you're in as this will allow you to process it better and ask for help if needs be.

How long do the five stages of grief last? Everyone is different. If you've lost someone you're incredibly close to then it could take years to get to that acceptance stage. Don't worry if it takes a long time, everyone grieves differently.

If you're struggling with any of the five stages of grief then it's always a good idea to ask for help, either from a loved one or professionally. Make sure you do not suffer in silence.

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