What Are The 5 Stages of Grief?

The "5 stages of grief" is an emotional gauge used by those in the mental health industry. The proven method of using five progressive stages to represent the grieving process was created to help people further understand their own, personal trauma, as well as help them empathize with the emotional pain of others. 

Recognizing and understanding the psychological processes of grief is the first step to coping with any traumatic experience.

While everyone is unique and will grieve in their own individual way, the following stages of grief provide a general outline for how a person typically experiences grief. Moreover, these five stages are useful for one to use as a starting point for understanding their own experience with trauma. 

The 5 Stages Of Grief

The stages of grief are made up of 5 progressive levels of emotions that people usually transition through in response to grief. 

• Denial and Isolation

The first reaction is to try to deny the reality of the situation. Denial is a psychological defense mechanism that protects a person from the overwhelming emotions associated with the initial shock. Denial is a brief response that helps to carry people through the first sense of emotional pain.

• Anger

As the masking effect of denial and isolation begins to wear off, the reality of the emotional pain emerges. The intensity of the pain is reflected outward at people or objects, perhaps even the person that they have recently lost. This anger is a natural response to things that hurt someone, though in the case of grief it is usually misplaced, which can make this stage especially confusing on an emotional level.

• Bargaining

Bargaining is an attempt to regain control in response to the vulnerability and helplessness that people feel after a major loss. People attempt to avoid the reality of the situation by creating a false belief that they can somehow change it.

Depression

There are two types of depression associated with mourning. The first is the practical reaction to the implications of the loss. Regret and sadness dominate this type of depression. The other type of depression is a more reserved and private emotional preparation to fully accept the loss.

• Acceptance

Acceptance is marked by a sense of calm and withdrawal. While acceptance is still a long way from complete recovery, which may never be possible, it still represents a significant departure from the emotional turmoil of the previous four stages.


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