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Sadly, each of us experiences grief during our lives. Losing loved ones – friends, relatives, pets – can be extremely painful. Understanding the stages of grief enables us to accept that the different emotions we feel whilst grieving are to be expected.

Grief is our emotional response to loss. Whilst everyone’s grief is unique to them, it can be comforting to know that different stages are involved. Some people do not experience every stage, and there is no time limit involved.

The seven stages are based upon psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stage model, first published in 1969. Stages one and seven were added in recent years to strengthen the model (Counselling Directory).

Seven Stages of Grief

  1. Shock. This is the body’s defence mechanism, protecting you from the pain of losing a loved one. It is natural to feel numb, emotionless and empty.
  2. Denial. It is common for people to convince themselves – and others – that the event has not had a severe impact on them … to try to carry on as if nothing has happened. It takes time for the truth to sink in.
  3. Guilt. This phase sees the introduction of pain, emotionally and sometimes physically too. It’s an important part of the grieving process. The sense of regret and blame can be overwhelming at times.
  4. Anger. The phase often starts once comforting friends and family have moved on and life caried on as usual. It is common to feel angry at yourself or others, about relatively minor things, and even at the deceased.
  5. Depression, Loneliness and Reflection. This stage involves great sadness and a lot of crying. People often feel isolated from other loved ones. It is important to try and move out of this stage, taking small steps such as meeting friends for a coffee or going for a walk. It is also a good time to seek professional support from a grief counsellor to help you through the pain.
  6. Reconstruction. During this stage people find realistic ways to cope. You may still feel sadness, guilt or go coupon depression, however everyday tasks become easier. This stage is the path to a ‘new normal’.
  7. Acceptance. This stage sees the beginnings of hope; hope that you’ll be ok and can start to rebuild your like and focus on the future. You accept that your loved one has gone, and it becomes less painful to think of them.

It’s important to remember that there is no set timescale to the stages of grief. Some people take weeks to reach acceptance; others take years. It’s common to fluctuate between the stages of grief, revisiting some – or maybe bypass some stages completely. People experience grief in different ways.

Knowing the stages involved and that it’s possible to get through grief can be extremely helpful when coming to terms with the death of a loved one. This can also enable you to help and understand someone you are supporting through their grief.

The compassionate and professional team at Austin’s is here to help you understand the process and options involved with funerals. We hope that this helps ease the pressure a little during the beginning of the grieving process.