Grief is a natural phenomenon. It is a natural response to loss and a normal part of the human experience. Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss that can include thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and physical reactions. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross originally postulated the five stages of grief, which have since been expanded to seven. Dr Angel Rivera explains the 7-stage concept. This seven-stage technique has acquired significant recognition as it combines two stages that many people go through. So, if you are wondering what these 7 stages of grief and loss are and how they have gained significant recognition, we have got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the seven stages of grief and teach you everything you need to know about them.
But before we get started, let’s look at how grief feels.
What Does Grief Feel Like?
Grief can manifest in various ways and be experienced differently by each person. Some common feelings and symptoms of grief include:
Emotional: feelings of sadness, despair, guilt, anger, and frustration are common. Some people may also feel numb or detached from their emotions.
Physical: Grief can manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, headaches, and chest pain.
Cognitive: Grief can affect an individual’s ability to concentrate, make decisions, and remember things. They may also have trouble sleeping or have nightmares.
Behaviour: Grief can cause changes in a person’s behaviour, such as withdrawing from social activities, losing interest in things they used to enjoy, or becoming more irritable or short-tempered.
Spiritual: Grief can also affect an individual’s spiritual or religious beliefs and practices. They may question their faith or feel a sense of abandonment by a higher power.
It’s pertinent to note that grief is a personal and unique experience, and everyone grieves differently. Some people may experience more intense feelings or symptoms than others, and the duration of grief can also vary greatly from person to person.
What are the seven stages of grief?
The seven stages of grief, also known as the Kübler-Ross model, were first introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.” These stages are a widely accepted framework for understanding the process of grieving, and they apply to all types of loss, not just death. The seven stages of grief are:
1. Shock and denial:
In this stage, the individual may experience feelings of numbness and disbelief that the loss has occurred. They may have difficulty accepting the reality of the situation and feel as though they are in shock.
2. Pain and guilt:
As the reality of the loss sinks in, the individual may begin to experience intense feelings of pain and guilt. They may blame themselves for the loss or feel as though they could have done something to prevent it.
3. Anger and bargaining:
As the individual begins to come to terms with their loss, they may experience feelings of anger and frustration. They may question why this has happened to them and try to make deals or bargains with a higher power in an attempt to change the situation.
The individual may begin to feel overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and despair. They may withdraw from others and have difficulty finding pleasure in activities they once enjoyed.
5. The upward turn:
The individual may begin to see small signs of hope and take small steps towards healing. They may begin to see the possibility of a future without the person or thing they have lost.
6. Reconstruction and working through:
The individual may begin to actively work through their grief and may start to make plans for the future. They may begin to find new meaning in their lives and rebuild their relationships with others.
7. Acceptance and hope:
The individual may reach a stage of acceptance where they can accept that the loss has occurred and begin to move forward in their lives. They may find hope for the future and be able to find peace with the loss.
The progression of 7-stages of grief
It’s worth noting that not everyone progresses through these phases in the same order and that some people may experience some stages more intensely than others. Additionally, the time it takes to go through the stages of grief can vary greatly from person to person.
Along with that, it’s critical to understand that grief is a personal and unique experience, and everyone grieves differently. The 7-stages of grief model is only a general guide; some people may not experience all the stages or experience them differently.
Especially when someone you love passes away, it might be difficult to envision life without them. Every loss causes us sorrow and pain, and you must make adjustments. But you also need to understand that you are not alone in that, as it’s a universal experience that touches all.
However, being aware of the seven stages of grief may make it easier for you to see the end of the dark tunnel.
How 7 stages of grief and loss help the grieving process
The 7 stages of grief can help individuals understand and make sense of their emotional reactions to loss. By providing a framework for the grieving process, the 7 stages of grief and loss can help individuals understand that their feelings and reactions are normal and that they are not alone in their experience.
1. Shock and denial: Recognizing this stage can help individuals understand why they may feel numb or disconnected from the reality of the loss and that it is a normal response to a traumatic event.
2. Pain and guilt: This stage can help individuals understand that feelings of guilt and pain are normal and that it is important to allow themselves to feel these emotions and process them.
3. Anger and bargaining: Recognizing this stage can help individuals understand that feelings of anger and frustration are normal and that it is important to express these emotions in a healthy way.
4. Depression: This stage can help individuals understand that feelings of sadness and despair are normal and that it is important to take care of themselves during this time.
5. The upward turn: This stage can help individuals understand that they are beginning to heal and that there is hope for the future.
6. Reconstruction and working through: This stage can help individuals understand that it is important to actively work through their grief and that it is possible to find new meaning in life after a loss.
7. Acceptance and hope: This stage can help individuals understand that it is possible to reach a stage of acceptance and that it is important to find hope for the future.
Additionally, by recognizing the 7 stages of grief, individuals can also see that grief is not a one-time event but a process that may take weeks, months, or even years.
The 7 Stages of Grief: How Long Do They Last?
Grief is an individual and distinctive experience. These phases or procedures don’t have a set duration. There is no “normal” timeframe for grieving as healing unfolds gradually; it cannot be forced or hastened. Besides this, depending on the person and the circumstances surrounding the loss, the length of grief might vary substantially. Grief can also be triggered by anniversaries, holidays, or other events that remind the individual of the loss. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that some people may experience grief for a few weeks or months while others may grieve for years.
Which stage is the most difficult out of the seven stages of grief?
There are various schools of thought when it comes to determining which of the seven stages of grief is the most difficult one. Some professionals believe “Depression” is the most challenging stage since it can take a longer time to get through it and the symptoms of depression are so incapacitating. While others claim that “Acceptance” is the hardest part of grief since you’ve finally come to terms with losing a loved one. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that each phase might be challenging and tough depending on the person’s level of grief.
The Seven Stages of Grief: Do I Really Need to Experience Them?
It is not necessary for everyone to progress through all seven stages of grief. They don’t always happen in that sequence. Some people might go through a stage more than once or occasionally several stages at once. According to DR Kubler Ross, the 7 stages of grief have changed since their inception, and throughout the past three decades, they have been greatly misinterpreted. The goal of these expressions was never to neatly bundle feelings together.
How do you get rid of grief?
It’s important to understand that grief is a universal process that cannot be “gotten rid of.” Grief is a response to loss; it takes time and effort to heal. However, there are ways to cope with and manage grief:
Allow yourself to feel your emotions: It’s important to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with grief, such as sadness, anger, or guilt. It’s okay to cry or feel overwhelmed.
Talk to someone: Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help you process your feelings and gain perspective. If needed, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.
Take care of yourself: Grief can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so it’s important to take care of yourself during this time. It includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in regular physical activity.
Find healthy ways to express yourself: Grief can be overwhelming; find healthy ways to express yourself, like writing, painting, or any other form of art.
Create a new routine: Because grief can disrupt your daily routine, try to establish a new routine that can help you feel a sense of normalcy and stability.
Remember the person or thing you lost: Create a special place or ritual to remember the person or thing you lost. It can provide a sense of connection and closure.
Give yourself time. Grief is a process, and it takes time. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to heal.
It’s also important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and everyone’s experience is unique. It’s important to be patient and seek professional help if you’re struggling to cope with your grief or if it’s interfering with your daily life.
When Should I Get Professional Help for Grief?
Grief is a natural process, but it can be difficult to cope with and can sometimes lead to more severe emotional or mental health problems. It’s important to seek professional help if you’re struggling to cope with your grief and it’s interfering with your daily life. Some signs that you may need professional help include:
Prolonged grief: Grief can last for weeks, months, or even years, but if your grief is lasting longer than expected or if it’s preventing you from moving on with your life, it may be a sign that you need professional help.
Intense feelings of guilt or self-blame: If you’re experiencing intense feelings of guilt or self-blame and they’re preventing you from coping with your grief, it may be a sign that you need professional help.
Difficulty functioning: If your grief is preventing you from being able to work, take care of yourself, or engage in activities that you once enjoyed, it may be a sign that you need professional help.
Suicidal thoughts or self-harm: If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or self-harm, it’s important to seek professional help immediately.
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares: If you’re having trouble sleeping or are experiencing nightmares, it may be a sign that you need professional help.
Physical symptoms: Grief can manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, headaches, chest pain, or other symptoms that persist and affect your daily life. It is a sign that you need professional help.
A therapist or counselor can provide support and guidance as you navigate the grieving process. They can also help you come up with ways to deal with hard feelings and give you a safe, supportive place to work through your grief.