The 5 Stages of Grief: How To Accept the Unacceptable

Grief is universal. Grief usually goes through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages were made for people who are dealing with grief. 

In this blog, we will review these five stages in depth. Here at Hospice Care Options, we are here to help you through these stages with grief counseling and support

What is Grief?

Grief is a strong, sometimes overwhelming feeling people experience when they lose a loved one or get a terminal diagnosis for themselves or someone they care about.

They might feel numb and cut off from everyday life, unable to do their regular jobs because they feel like they’ve lost something.

Grief is a natural response to losing something. Grief is both a shared and a unique feeling. Grief is different for each person and is affected by the type of loss. Some examples of loss are the death of a loved one, the end of a meaningful relationship, losing a job, having something stolen from you, or becoming disabled and losing your independence.

Understanding the Stages of Grief

Grief is a normal feeling when someone dies, or someone close to them dies.

Grief is different for everyone, but knowing the various stages of grief can help you predict and understand some of the feelings you may have during the grieving process. It can also help you figure out what you need when you’re grieving and how to get it.

Understanding the stages of grief can help you move toward acceptance and healing in the end.

Learn about our Grief Support Program, Camp Good Grief >>

The Five Stages of Grief

These are the five stages of grief:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Stage 1: Denial

Grief is a powerful feeling. But, unfortunately, it’s common to act like the loss or change isn’t happening to deal with the strong and often sudden feelings.

You give yourself more time to take in the news and figure it out by denying it happened. This is a common way to protect yourself, and it helps you forget how bad the situation is.

As soon as you stop being in denial, the feelings you’ve been hiding will start to come out. You’ll have to face a lot of sadness that you’ve tried to hide. This is also part of the grieving process, it can be difficult, but it’s a transition that must happen.

Stage 2: Anger

If denial is a way to deal with a problem, then anger is a way to hide it. Your anger hides a lot of your other feelings and pain.

This anger could be aimed at others, like the person who died, your ex, or your old boss. You might even direct your anger at things that don’t move. Unfortunately, even though your logical brain knows the person you’re mad at isn’t to blame, your feelings are too strong at the time to act on that knowledge.

This stage of grief doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people may stay here. As the anger goes away, you may think about what’s going on more logically and feel the feelings you’ve been trying to hide.

Stage 3: Bargaining

During a time of loss, you might feel weak and helpless. During times of strong emotions, it’s common to look for ways to get back in charge or feel like you can change what’s going to happen. During the bargaining stage of grief, you might say many “what if” and “if only” things.

People who believe in a higher power often try to make a deal or promise to them in exchange for healing or relief from their grief and pain. Grief can be hard to deal with, so bargaining is a way to protect yourself. In addition, it helps you put off being sad, confused, or hurt for a while.

Stage 4: Depression

Depression can feel like a quiet stage of grief, while anger and bargaining can feel very busy.

In the beginning stages of grief, you may try to run away from your feelings and stay one step ahead of them. But by now, you might be able to accept them and deal with them in a more healthy way. You may also choose to spend time alone so you can fully deal with the loss.

Depression can feel like the only way to get through a loss. But if you feel stuck in this stage of grief or can’t seem to move on, you can talk to a mental health professional. A therapist can help you figure out how to deal with this time.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Acceptance is not always a happy or uplifting part of the grieving process. It doesn’t mean that you’re over the loss or grief. However, it does mean that you’ve come to accept it and understand what it means for you now.

During this stage, you may feel very different. That makes perfect sense. You’ve gone through a significant change in your life, which makes you think & feel differently about many things.

Acceptance can help you see that there might be more good days than bad ones. Bad things may still happen, and that’s okay.

What is the Hardest Stage of Grief?

There is no one stage that everyone agrees is the hardest to get through. Grief is different for each person, which means the hardest part of grief is different for every person and every situation.

The Takeaway

To understand grief, you have to realize that no one goes through the same thing. Grief is very personal, and each time you feel it, you may feel something different. You might need a few weeks, or you might need years.

If you decide you need help dealing with the feelings and changes, the professionals at Hospice Care Options can help you sort through your emotions and find comfort amid these very heavy and weighty feelings.

Have you lost a loved one or learned of some heartbreaking news? Let us help you work through your grief and give us a call today at (800)563-8680. Check out our locations to see which one suits you best for your treatment.