Knowing & Coping With the Stages of Grief

We all go through the grieving process at some point in our lives. It could be due to the loss of a job or a family member. Whatever the reason, there are five main steps that we work through on our way to processing what happened.

The stages of grief are not step by step. Rather they flow back and forth as we toggle between them. Once you move past anger, you may swing back to anger at some point. This is the way the grieving process works. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor is there a time frame in which you must move through the stages.

  1. Denial

Denial is the feeling that whatever caused the grief didn’t happen. If you lose your job, you may wake up the next day, preparing to go in before remembering that you no longer have a job. You may struggle to believe that your loved one is truly gone, even acting as if there’s a mistake and they may come back home.

Leaning on your support system and allowing them to help is key during this stage. You may also journal to process your feelings.

2. Anger
Anger can come in waves and be directed toward anyone in your path. You may be angry at your boss for not seeing your value or your coworker for maintaining their job. Anger can be explosive, causing issues with your family and friends.

Focusing on your breathing and mental awareness during this stage can help you pinpoint when you feel anger building.

3. Bargaining
When you’re in the bargaining stage, you are willing to do anything to regain what you’ve lost. You might talk about taking on extra hours or assignments if you can have your job back or never losing your cool again if only you can have your loved one back. In this stage, we focus on “what if” thinking, often blaming ourselves for what happened.

Talking with a trusted friend about your thoughts can help you understand your thoughts and feelings during this time.

4. Depression
Depression is a natural reaction to loss. You might have trouble sleeping or not be able to focus. This sadness requires you to slow down and take care of yourself while you pass through this stage.

If you find yourself stuck in this stage, reaching out for help is important, as prolonged depression can seep into other areas of your life.

5. Acceptance
When you’re working through acceptance, you feel a variety of emotions. You might be exhausted from what’s happened or be able to smile finally, remembering a good memory related to what you lost. It’s important to continue taking care of yourself during this stage.

Do not be too hard on yourself if you’ve reached acceptance but still get angry some days.

A strong support system and open communication will help you work through the stages of grief. Remember, it’s not a sprint to the finish. Do not compare yourself to others who are also grieving. Be kind and patient, not only to yourself but to those around you.