The 7 Stages Of Grief And How They Affect You
Updated September 13, 2018
Reviewer Melinda Santa
Grief is a horrible emotion to feel, because it means that something has happened in your life that you wish you could avoid. In most cases, it's because of the loss of a friend, family member, pet or other loved one. But just what happens when you experience grief and what should you do about it? Understanding the 7 stages of grief will start you off right.
The 7 Stages of Grief
Shock & Denial
When someone first brings you that bad news it can be difficult to believe it's even real. You want to just shake your head and say 'no way.' You may start to feel a little numb and may feel no pain at all at the loss because of this. The shock and disbelief are actually suspending your pain and this may last for several weeks.
Pain & Guilt
Once your shock starts to fade away you'll start to notice the pain. This is when it first starts to hit you that your loss is real. The pain may be extremely hard to handle and it may feel physical as well as mental and emotional. You may even start to feel guilty about something that you could have done or should have done for the person (even if it's illogical).
Anger & Bargaining
Next, many people start to feel angry. You may feel angry with your religion, with someone who was taking care of that person, with the person in the other car that hit them or anyone else. It may be completely unreasonable who you feel angry with but you seek out someone you can blame for the loss and may even attempt to bargain to bring that person back.
Depression, Reflection & Loneliness
Generally this is one of the later things to take effect. When many of your family or friends are starting to overcome their suffering or starting to think that you should be overcoming your own suffering, you start to feel depressed. Even though the pain towards the beginning is hard, this may hit you even harder, because you're truly coming to terms with what you're going through and the loss you've experienced.
You're not feeling the pain as much as feeling the change to your life that losing this person has made. Maybe you've lost someone you spend a lot of time with or the person you always told secrets to. These difficulties are going to start to cause depression, reflection on the old way things were and loneliness as you realize those times are gone.
Finally, just when you think there can't possibly be anything good coming ever again, you'll start to experience the turn. You'll start to feel a little better each day. It may be so slight that you don't even realize it at first, and you won't feel happy all at once. What you may feel is a little less pain, a little less sadness and more of a feeling of being okay.
Reconstruction & Working Through
This is where you'll start to work your way through the aftermath of losing that loved one. Maybe you have to take care of some financial troubles either caused by the loss or the grief you went through while dealing with the loss. Maybe you need to just put yourself back together. This is the stage where it all begins.
The final stage is the one you'll be in for the rest of your life. This is the one where you start to accept the loss fully and start to move on with your life. That's not to say you ever 'get over it' but that you start to feel okay about it and you're able to think about them and even talk about them again without feeling the despair or intense pain. It may make you sad to think about them, but it may also make you happy because now you can remember and be happy about the good times.
Keep in mind that the stages of grief are different for everyone. You may only spend a few days in disbelief and your sibling may spend weeks there. You may never go through a bargaining stage while your best friend spends a lot of time with it. There's no right or wrong way to grieve, and there's no timetable for an acceptable length of time to grieve. Getting through this pain, however, can be extremely difficult to do on your own. Seeking out professional help, like what you can get from Better Help, can make a huge difference in your life and in your healing process.