The 5 Stages of Grief

In 1969 a book written by psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, “On Death and Dying” we were first introduced to the idea of the stages of grief.

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Denial“I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.” Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual.

Anger“Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?” The person begins to recognizes that denial can’t be done forever. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes pregnancy or motherhood may be subject to the feelings of resentment and jealousy.

Bargaining“I’ll do anything for a healthy pregnancy.”; “I will give my life savings if…” The third stage involves the hope / desire for the individual to make ‘deals’ for things to be ok “next time” or to take it all back and start again.

Depression“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” During the fourth stage, the grieving person begins to understand the death/loss. The grieving person may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and wanting to be alone. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

Acceptance“It’s going to be okay.” In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with what has happened.

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The grieving process does not always occur in this particular order nor will everyone experience the same steps/all stages but it is thought that a grieving person will experience at least 2 of the 5 stages in any time frame or order.

There has been some recent press about whether or not these 5 stages really hold true but in my own experience I have found this comforting to look back on. That what i am feeling (whether it be indifference, jealousy, anger) are “normal” feelings in my grief process – even if they take longer then I’d hoped.

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Devan McGuinness

is the founder and executive director of the award-winning resource Unspoken Grief .

About Unspoken Grief

Unspoken Grief is a non-profit website dedicated to creating awareness and resources for anyone touched directly or indirectly by miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

©Unspoken Grief 2017; Devan McGuinness

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Unspoken Grief exists to provide peer-to-peer support and resources. The information on this site is intended only for advocacy and educational purposes. It's not intended to give medical advice, to diagnose or to offer treatment for any medical or psychological conditions. Please consult your own health care provider for your own specific situation and needs.