The Five Stage of Grief

by Nathan Martyn - Date: 2008-10-20 - Word Count: 500 Share This!

Losing someone close to us is never easy. In her 1969 book titled, "On Death and Dying", Elisabeth Kubler-Ross lists the five stages of grief that most of us experience when we go through this situation. By learning about these stages, we can begin coping with death more effectively, knowing that each stage will bring us closer to the end of the healing process. Some people can get stuck in one of the first four stages, and need a bit of help to continue on with the process. When you understand how the process is supposed to go, you will be better equipped to recognize if you need to seek help or if you are making your way through the steps sufficiently on your own.

1. Denial and Isolation

When we first receive devastating news like the death of a loved one, our first reaction may be to deny the truth of the matter and withdraw from our friends and family. Denial and isolation can take place over a matter of months in some cases.

2. Anger

Anger is a perfectly normal method for coping with death, and is the second stage of the grieving process, according to Kubler-Ross. You may be angry with yourself for being unable to prevent the loss, angry with doctors who could not save your family member, or angry with the person who died for abandoning you and creating so much pain. Some people get angry with God because they believe He should have done something to prevent the death from occurring.

3. Bargaining

Sometimes people's anger with God will turn into a bargaining chip. You may try to negotiate with God, promising to help others or live a better life if He will take your pain away and reverse the loss that you are experiencing.

4. Depression

The anger has faded away by now, leaving numbness and despondency in its wake. That doesn't mean that the anger is gone for good; it may be simmering still just under the surface, where it can explode at the slightest provocation. This may be a time where you feel hopeless and unable to make plans or dream about the future. You may find yourself wallowing in feeling of self pity and an inability to enjoy the things in life that you once loved. Some people have trouble breaking out of this stage, leading them to seek professional help in coping with death.

5. Acceptance

The pain is still there, but it is easier to deal with. The sadness still exists, but you now feel somewhat optimistic that you can turn the experience into something positive. Acceptance doesn't mean to simply grin and bear it, but to accept the loss and prepare to move forward with your life. This is the stage where true personal growth can occur.

Coping with death is one of the most challenging experiences anyone will ever have to face. These five stages are typically the process that most people will go through to deal with the loss, heal and move on with their lives.

Nathan Martyn is webmaster of The Eternal Portal, a place to create online memorials, grief support forums, articles and condolence guest books.n
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