The Five Stages of Grief

By Staff Writer

The Kubler-Ross model, authored by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, describes a process by which people deal with grief. The process is known as the Five Stages of Grief.  The stages can be applied to the experience of any significant loss including death, divorce, addiction, infertility, job loss, etc. It is important to understand the five stages are a process and not a rigid series of steps. People do not always experience all five stages in sequence. Transition between stages can be an ebb and flow and sometimes one stage may take longer to process than the others.  The process of grief and other emotional reactions to trauma are as unique as fingerprints.

Stage 1

DENIAL – denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, or reality. It sometimes is a result of being in shock. “I feel fine.” “This can’t be happening to me!”

Stage 2

ANGER – anger can occur in different ways. People dealing with loss can be frustrated, angry or outraged with themselves and/or with others, especially those close to them.  “Why me? It’s not fair!”  “No! How did this happen!”

Stage 3

BARGAINING – the bargaining stage for people dealing with losses facing death can involve attempting to bargain with their own belief system or religion. “Just let me see my children graduate.” “I’ll do anything; can’t you let them live few more years God?”

Stage 4

DEPRESSION – sometimes also referred to as preparatory grieving. It is a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment.  It is natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, or uncertainty during a period of grief. It is a painful stage but indicates the person has at least begun to accept the reality of the loss. “I am so sad, why bother with anything?” “I am going to die…what’s the point?”

Stage 5

ACCEPTANCE –there is an indication that a sense of order or an emotional resolution has been accomplished. A new sense of peace and renewed hope for the future has been accomplished. “It’s going to be OK.”  “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

For more information on how to cope following trauma, give Best Care EAP a call. Counselors are ready to help. 

To schedule your confidential appointment, call (402) 354-8000 or (800) 801-4182, or send an email.

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