What Are the Six Stages of Grief?

For a long time, grief specialists have spoken of the five classic stages of grief we all go through. However, experts now agree there is a sixth stage crucial in our healing. So what are the six stages of grief, and what should you look out for?

Stage 1: Denial

Denial is a natural reaction to the shock of losing a loved one. You may insist there is some mistake or continue to act and speak as though they were alive. This is a healthy part of the grieving process because it protects us from dealing with too much at once. The second stage will come in time as the reality of the tragedy sinks in.

Stage 2: Anger

The next natural reaction is anger once we get past the denial that death occurred. We get furious that this happened and may lash out. Again, this is healthy when controlled and when no one else ends up in harm’s way. Yell about it and write about it. Blame whoever you need to blame in that moment – doctors, God, the deceased, yourself, or whoever. It will pass, and you won’t feel that way forever.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Once the anger fades, we can feel a little guilty about how we felt and who we blamed. Sometimes we struggle to get past the feeling that we could have done more for our loved one. Bargaining is a short-term phase that helps bring hope and comfort to make up for those wrongs. Those that are religious may bargain with God to bring back some form of normalcy and comfort.

Stage 4: Depression

This is their toughest stage and the hardest to break away from. At this point, the reality has firmly set in that your loved one isn’t coming back. Life has permanently changed for the worse. Also, you may not have reaped any rewards from those negotiations with a higher power.

The grief becomes deeper, and you sink into depression. There is nothing wrong with this, as it is perfectly normal. Don’t ever feel bad about ending up in this state. It just shows how much your loved one meant to you.

Stage 5: Acceptance

This is a difficult stage to reach, which means that the depression stage could last longer than you hope for. You will heal in your own time with the right methods for you. Eventually, you will come to a form of acceptance where you can finally come to terms with what has happened and be ready for the next chapter. That doesn’t mean you are happy again or your grief is over. It just means you can move forward with your life.

Stage 6: Finding Meaning

Reaching acceptance isn’t the same as finding closure and rebuilding a happier life. With time, you will find that you see your present, future, and past with more positivity than before. You start to talk about your lost loved one by smiling about their memory rather than fixating on their loss. You have a great sense of purpose moving forward.

At Brampton Crematorium, we are committed to helping a family with the utmost respect as they handle their grief. We know that these six stages of grief look and feel different to each individual. There is no blueprint for handling them or a timeline on when to progress through them. Go at your own pace, find comfort and support where you can, and know it will improve.