Grief has specific steps or stages. After the loss (to death, a romantic breakup or a move) or loss of a possession (such as pet or a home) or after losing a job, there are several stages you go through. Loss of a loved one’s trust also causes grief and is common after infidelity. Loss of one’s health can be a cause for grief.
You may experience some or all the stages of grief below and there is no specific order. Common stages are (per Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in “On Death and Dying”):
• Denial – In this stage you may believe a death or medical diagnosis is not real or mistaken. You may hold on to a preferable reality but eventually, you will accept that the loss is real.
• Anger – When you recognize that denial is no longer realistic, you may become angry. You may deflect your emotions onto a person or circumstance. Typical reactions are, “Why did this happen to me?” or “This isn’t fair!” or “Who is to blame for this?”.
• Bargaining – This is hoping that you can avoid grief or ignore an impending loss. You may “negotiate” with God for longer life or better health or another improbable reality by “promising” that you will change your lifestyle.
• Depression – You may think, “I’m so sad, why bother?” or, “I miss …, why go on?”. During depression, you may become sad by an impending death or other loss. You may become withdrawn or angry, hopeless or resentful. Medication may be needed to alleviate severe reactions. This stage is usually temporary but severe.
• Acceptance – Here, you realize, “It will be okay” or, “I can’t fight it” or, “I have to accept it.” In this (usually) final stage, you embrace the inevitable death of a loved one or the reality of a tragic event. If you are dying, you may arrive at a calm, introspective view of life and death with more stable emotions.