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  • Rashida Dinehart

How Many Stages of Grief are there Again?

If you've listened to our podcast (which if you're here, I hope you have or planned to) then you've heard us say, "grief isn't linear," time and time again. And as much as we live by this philosophy we also know that knowing what to expect in some form on this journey can help us feel more validated in what we're going through.

While there are two main models of the "stages of grief," we have to remind you once more that the stages aren't linear and there isn't a set time on how long you'll hang out at a given stage. As you progress on your grief journey certain milestones, life changes, or even new information could send you right back to a stage you previously felt you'd conquered.

The most popular grief model is the five-stage model, also known as the Kübler-Ross model, as it was originally proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. They are:

  1. Denial: The first stage of grief is characterized by disbelief or shock at the loss. People may struggle to accept what has happened and may feel numb or disconnected from their emotions.

  2. Anger: In the second stage of grief, people may feel angry at the situation, others, or themselves. This anger can take many forms, such as resentment, frustration, or blame.

  3. Bargaining: The third stage of grief involves an attempt to negotiate or make deals to change the situation. This can involve religious or spiritual bargaining, such as praying for a different outcome, or more practical bargaining, such as trying to make amends with someone or changing one's behavior to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.

  4. Depression: The fourth stage of grief is marked by intense sadness, feelings of loss and hopelessness, and withdrawal from activities or social connections.

  5. Acceptance: The final stage of grief involves coming to terms with the loss and beginning to move forward. This can involve finding meaning in the experience, creating a new identity or sense of purpose, and integrating the loss into one's life.

If you're like us, the five-stage model leaves a little to be desired. It feels a bit limiting...and well, linear. It feels like once you reach acceptance, you're good to go and that isn't always the case. There's an updated model we love that includes seven stages.

  1. Shock and Denial: The first stage is shock and denial. When we first receive news of a loss, it can be difficult to believe it is true. We may feel numb, in disbelief, or even question the validity of the information. This is a natural and normal response to an overwhelming situation.

  2. Pain and Guilt: The second stage of grief involves feeling the pain of the loss. We may feel a range of emotions, including anger, guilt, and sadness. We may question ourselves and the decisions we made that led to the loss. It's important to acknowledge these feelings and allow ourselves to experience them fully.

  3. Anger and Bargaining: In the third stage, we may feel anger and start to question why this happened to us. We may also start to bargain, trying to find a way to change the outcome. This is a common stage that many people experience, and it's important to acknowledge the anger and frustration that comes with it.

  4. Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness: In the fourth stage of grief, we may experience a deep sense of sadness and loneliness. We may feel overwhelmed by the loss and the impact it has had on our lives. It's important to allow ourselves to feel these emotions and take time to reflect on what the loss means for us.

  5. The Upward Turn: In the fifth stage of grief, we start to find ways to cope with the loss. We may start to see the world in a more positive light and begin to move forward with our lives.

  6. Reconstruction and Working Through: The sixth stage involves working through the pain and rebuilding our lives. We may start to explore new opportunities and make changes in our lives to adjust to the loss.

  7. Acceptance and Hope: The "final" stage of grief involves acceptance and hope. We start to accept the loss as a part of our lives and begin to see a future that is filled with hope and possibility.

It's important to note that not everyone experiences all of these stages or in the same order. Grief is a complex process that can vary from person to person, and it's important to give ourselves the time and space to experience it in our own way.

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