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7 stages of grief

When you experience a terrible loss, grief is sure to follow. Everyone experiences this phenomenon differently, but there are seven major stages that can help you better define your thoughts and emotions. Each is to be interpreted loosely, but the full process of rationalizing grief includes each one. Here’s what you need to know. 

Stage One: Shock and Denial

Learning about a major loss comes as a shock to everyone, except in situations where a death was long expected. Even then, denial that the loss is reality begins to set in. This is the brain’s way of avoiding the pain that comes with losing a loved one. Stage one can last for weeks as you slowly accept the loss. 

Stage Two: Pain and Guilt

Once the initial shock wears off, the pain sets in. This is the stage of suffering, often unbearable. As you fully experience your pain, make sure to let it out and work towards healthy coping mechanisms. Feelings of guilt or remorse may also appear as you wish you had done more or hadn’t done some things with your loved one. 

Stage Three: Anger and Bargaining

As you begin to work through the pain of loss, especially your guilt, you’ll find yourself angry at the situation. Loss seems unfair, and your brain needs something to place the blame on. It’s important to control the urge to lash out. At the same time, your brain begins bargaining in an attempt to fix this, as if it could reverse the situation. 

Stage Four: Depression 

The spike in anger and the energy spent borrowing leaves people depleted. Add in the pain from the loss, and depression sets in. This stage often happens when people begin expecting you to move on, but you’re entering a long period of reflection, sadness, and feeling the full effect of your loss. 

Stage Five: The Upward Turn

This is the stage where you begin to readjust to life without your loved one. Physical and emotional symptoms lessen as depression begins to fade away. If at all possible, save the trivialities after a loss for this stage. Things like property division amongst family, for instance, are best handled during stage five. 

Stage Six: Reconstruction

During stage six, people begin finding real solutions to life after loss. These solutions exist in daily routines as well as financial difficulties. You also begin to reconstruct your life without your loved one it, adapting to this new version of normal. 

Stage Seven: Acceptance

The final stage, acceptance, is when you fully adjust to the reality of the situation. You accept and deal with life without your loved one in healthy ways. While you will still feel sadness and pain from the loss, but finding a way forward becomes easier. You can begin to plan for the future again, looking ahead with hope once more. 

Stage seven is the perfect time to speak with a probate administration lawyer if you haven’t already. Unfortunately, stage four tends to last so long that all of the trivialities surrounding loss must take place during one of your most difficult times.