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Understanding The Stages of Grief

Understanding The Stages of Grief

Who developed the five stages of grief?

The five stages of grief model was developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. She gained notoriety after she published her book "On Death and Dying" in 1969. Kübler-Ross developed this representation to describe people with a terminal illness facing and their own death. This version was soon adapted as a way of thinking about grief in general.

Do the five stages of grief happen in order?

The five stages are as followed:

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally, Acceptance.

These emotions are often talked about as if they happen in order, moving from one stage to the other. This isn’t often the case.

In fact Kübler-Ross, in her writing, makes it clear that the stages are non-linear. People can experience these aspects of grief at different times and they do not happen in any one particular order.

Each person is different, therefore, every grief journey will not be the same as the next person. Feelings are quite different with different bereavements.

The stages of grief in detail:


Feeling numb is common in the early days after a a death. It is a common occurence at first carry on as if nothing has happened. Even if we know with our heads that someone has died it can be hard to believe that someone we love and that is significant in our lives is not coming back. It’s also very common to feel the presence of someone who has died, hear their voice, or even see them.


Anger is a completely natural emotion, and very normal after someone dies. Death can seem unfair, especially when you feel someone has died before their time or you had plans for the future together. It’s also common to feel angry towards the person who has died, or angry at ourselves for things we did or didn’t do before their death. It is also a normal reaction to lash out at their religious deities regardless of what religion they may follow.


When we are in emotional pain, it’s sometimes hard to accept that there’s nothing we can do to change things. Bargaining is when we start to make deals with ourselves, or perhaps with God if we’re religious. We want to believe that if we act in particular ways we will feel better. It’s also common to find ourselves going over and over things that happened in the past and asking a lot of ‘what if’ questions, wishing we could go back and change things; projecting an outcome where reality could have turned out differently.


Sadness and longing are what we think of most often when we think about grief. This pain can be very intense and come in waves over many months or years. Life can feel like it no longer holds any meaning, thus thrusting us into a state of depression. Therapy and grief counseling would be the best outlet in your grief journey.


Grief comes in waves and it can feel like nothing will ever be right again. Gradually most people find that the pain eases, and it is possible to accept their new reality. While we never ‘get over’ the death of someone precious, we can learn to live again with a new normal, while keeping the memories of those we have lost close to us.


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