The pain when someone you love dies is unexplainably unbearable. You ask yourself, “Will this pain ever end?” You may have feelings of shock, anger, profound sadness, confusion, and disbelief. Grieving is a normal response to loss. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, but there is a healthy process of dealing with the death of a family member or close friend.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a renowned psychiatrist, developed a theory called “The Five Stages of Grief.” The process involved when dealing with a loved one’s death is calledDABDA,” which stands for denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The five stages of grief do not only apply when dealing with the death of a loved one; it also applies to divorce, perceived significant life changes, miscarriage, job loss, or the diagnosis of a terminal illness.

Mother holding her grieving daughter experiencing one of the 5 stages of grief

The 5 Stages of the Grieving Process

This article will focus on the stages of the grieving process when dealing with the death of a loved one. There is no specific time frame for getting over the loss of a dearly beloved.

Not all who experience the loss of a special person will go through all stages of grief, and that’s okay. You don’t have to go through all these five stages of grief. The theory was developed as a guide to give us an idea of which emotions are experienced in grief. The theory also answers your questions about why you’re feeling the way you are after losing someone. 

1. Denial

Denial is the first stage of the grief experience. What is your first response when you hear the news that someone died? It’s most likely disbelief. You can’t seem to properly face the reality of the situation, especially if the death is sudden or you just talked to that person yesterday.

The denial stage is an attempt to absorb and understand the news. It’s a common defense mechanism in the grief process to survive the pain. It is the stage where you take the time to adjust to the new reality. This is the time when you question yourself on how to go forward through life without this person’s presence.

2. Anger

A common response when someone dies is anger. This stage of grief can last for days, weeks, or even months. This stage may also involve feelings of frustration, anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty.

In the anger stage, you find yourself blaming the doctors, caregivers, God, or even yourself if there is something you could have done to avoid the death of your loved one. There are so many questions that cross your mind, like why is this happening to you. You feel the anger rise as you ask more questions.

There’s so much emotion in the new reality to process that you use anger to avoid or confront the situation. When you feel angry, try to seek help from friends or other family members. Remember that you do not grieve alone; other people in your life are experiencing pain, too. This is the time to be there for each other, and together you can deal with your anger issues. 

3. Bargaining

This is the stage where you tell yourself, “I would do anything just to bring my dearly beloved back.” You may keep asking yourself “what if” questions. These are moments when you feel desperate to do almost anything or bargain anything to have that loved one back.

During the bargaining stage, you may tend to look back on the moments you spent with your dearly beloved. You recall the times when you had misunderstandings or caused your dearly beloved pain. How you wish you could turn back time and behave differently.

You may be in a painful place where you’ll do anything to turn back time. During this stage after the loss, remember to take it easy on yourself. Please do not blame yourself or other people for what happened and try to accept the loss slowly. 

4. Depression

The fourth stage of the grieving process after a loss is depression. The denial, anger, and bargaining start to dwindle as you slowly begin to face the situation. The feelings of sadness grow, and the pain is unavoidable at this point. Going through depression after a friend or family member’s death may cause you to become less sociable and affect your eating and sleeping patterns.

During the depression stage, don’t let your grief get the best of you. Avoid isolating yourself and get the help you need. Talk to a loved one or a mental health professional to learn how to cope with the loss healthily. 

5. Acceptance

The acceptance stage starts when you no longer struggle with facing the reality of the situation. You still feel pain and still cry, but you begin to accept the reality of your loved one’s death. The acceptance stage doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re totally okay, but you have accepted to go on with life while acknowledging the loss.

It’s like telling yourself, “My husband died, but eventually, I will be okay.” You start to accept that life goes on, and despite the pain and grief, you have to move on. This is where you start to keep yourself busy with productive ways to spend your day. Tell yourself that you have an angel guiding you in everything you do. 

How to Grieve Healthily After the Loss of a Loved One

There is no wrong or right way to grieve, but there is a healthy way to express grief. If you recently experienced the loss of a dearly beloved, the key is not to isolate yourself from those who can support you.

As you experience grief, you may find yourself preferring to withdraw yourself from others. You will find it easier to deal with the loss if you have your friends and family with you. You don’t need to talk about the loss every time you interact with them. Just being in their presence is good enough.

If you recently experienced a loss, try to avoid unhealthy behaviors like drinking too much and substance abuse. Try to live a productive life, focus on what you have, spend time with your family, take care of your physical and mental health, and look forward to healing from the pain.

Try to accept the grief by drawing comfort in your faith, joining a support group, or talking to a counselor. If you need to talk to someone and learn how to live with grief, schedule an appointment with Kentucky Counseling Center now. Our therapists will help you process your grief so you can eventually look forward to happy days ahead.

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