What Are The 7 Stages Of Grief?
“Grief”—yeah, we all seize up a little when we hear that word. No matter who you are, at some point in your life you’ve experienced the heartache and dread of tragedy, whether from a break-up, a job loss, a missed opportunity, or the death of a loved one. Grief strikes at seriously the worst possible times and when that b*tch comes . . . she’s here for a while.
And, that’s probably the worst part, right??? When tragedy comes, you just want all the bad vibes to be over with. You want to be done feeling sad, angry, alone, and hopeless—but in a healthy way. So you can OFFICIALLY move on. Luckily, pretty much everyone goes through the same 7 stages of grief, which can help you map your journey through grief. So, today, we’re sharing those stages, so you’ll have the tools you need to get through this in a healthy and positive way. We’re here for you!!!
What Are The 7 Stages Of Grief?
The 7 stages of grief were packaged and delivered to us by a famous psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the book “On Death and Dying.” The discovery was BRILLIANT and it has totally revolutionized the way people not only process the death of a loved one, but grief of any kind at all.
The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, finding meaning, and emotional healing. (And, no, this is not the plot description of an episode of Vanderpump Rules.) When these stages are all mapped out, it’s much easier to have hope for a future without all the sh*tty feelings. Remember, though, healing isn’t linear, so you might fall back into one stage after moving ahead. It’s okay! You’re gonna get through this, but first, let’s break down the stages of grief:
Shock and Denial:
When something tragic happens, our first reaction is to be, “No, it can’t be true!“ It’s a natural protective mechanism that happens when you’re experiencing grief. It helps you to absorb the news gradually, making it easier to process reality. Here, you’re more likely to be in disbelief and feel a sense of numbness. You simply DO NOT want to accept and come to terms with the overwhelming truth.
In this episode of The Career Contessa, Lauren McGoodwin explains more about shock and denial. They break down why you go through it, how to get past it, and what to do while you’re in the thick of it. It’s a super helpful episode for getting you out of this stage of the grieving process and on to the next—that much closer to healing, people!!!
Once you start accepting the new reality, the shock subsides and turns to anger. And, this anger could be directed at literally anything!!! You could be mad at yourself, which tanks your self-esteem. You could be mad at others, which threatens your relationships. Or, you could just be mad at the situation, which just breeds more anger!!!
Let’s be frank, the emotional turmoil can be intense, but acknowledging this anger is a crucial step in the healing process. This will be a good time to listen to some self-help podcasts to learn about emotional management and personal growth. Beyond that, things like physical activity, journaling for anger, and talking to a mental health professional can help you redirect your anger into something more positive!
When you start searching for ways to regain control or undo the loss, you’re in the bargaining stage. Thoughts like, “If only I had done this differently” or, “what if” are super common.
Despite all the ways you maybe could have changed your action to get a different outcome—what’s done is done. There’s no purpose in the pain and guilt. Recognize that bargaining is a normal part of the grief process and try to find constructive ways to channel your feelings. This episode of ILYSM with Kenzie Elizabeth talks about how to move on from bargaining and navigating grief by letting go. It’s a must-listen for anyone in this stage of grief!
During the depression stage, the weight of the loss becomes more pronounced. Feelings of deep sadness, emptiness, and despair can totally leave you feeling overwhelmed. When you’re depressed, finding joy in things that you normally love becomes seriously impossible. This stage feels so hopeless!
With clinical depression, there is no “turning it off” or putting on a smiling face. You need real coping strategies and, depending on the loss, you may even need therapy. For some good tips, check out this episode of Him & Her on controlling your mind and emotions, and, if you’re struggling with the idea of therapy, def listen to this Dear Gabby episode that breaks the stigma behind therapy and mental health!
After finding good ways of managing depression, you’ll start to feel a sense of acceptance. This is where you finally come to terms with what has happened and embrace its effect—but, don’t get it twisted. This doesn’t mean you’re completely “over” the loss, but rather you’ve integrated it into your reality (maybe you even have a scheduled cry in the Real Pod Cry Sesh Crew.)
This stage is usually marked by a quiet kind of sadness and a recognition that life can move forward, but with a changed perspective. During this stay, you’ll probably be inside, in bed, rolling through your favorite T-Swift sad songs. And, hey, that’s okay.
A strong community of friends and family members and/or therapy can be invaluable during this stage (If you want to learn more about how therapy can be helpful, listen to this episode of ILYSM.) The Dear Gabby podcast also has an episode on acceptance called “The Spiritual Guide to Cope with Grief and Loss.”
Finding meaning is the stage where you start to reflect on the impact of the loss and how it might have changed you. A good way to make the most of this stage is to find a way to honor what was lost and give it space. If it’s a lost job, maybe you make a photo book of your favorite memories and display it in your home. If it’s a loved one, maybe you pursue a goal you made together. Whatever it is, just make sure it helps you find purpose in the healing!
It’s also a good idea at this stage to find a community like a support group of people who’ve been through the same thing. You’ll find people at different stages of their healing journey, so they can give you wisdom on how to get through your funk too! Your mental health is also sooo important at this stage. So, you should equip yourself with the best mental health podcasts around to help put you in the right headspace all the time!
Remember, there is no “wrong way” to grieve. It varies from person to person. What matters is that you find ways to cope with what works for you. Remember whether it’s by seeking the guidance of a mental health professional, participating in support groups, or simply leaning on friends and family, emotional healing is an ongoing journey.
This episode of The Papaya Podcast talks more about what it takes and what it means to truly heal and move on with the ones we’ve lost. Sarah Nicole also dishes out wisdom in another episode where she talks about grief, healing, and acceptance.
Healing takes time, character development, and a dash of self-love.
Navigating the stages of grief is not a straightforward journey, but it’s a necessary one for overcoming grief. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions, seek support when needed, and embrace the progress you make. In time, you will find your own path to healing and discover the strength to move forward while keeping cherished memories alive.
For more quality tips on how to deal with grief, listen to this episode of Recovering From Reality and this episode of The Art of Being Well with Dr. Will Cole. And, as always, don’t forget the Dear Media blog. We’re your podcast besties for all the best self-help and personal development content. Together, we’ll be our best selves!