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Understanding the Stages of Grief

Grief is one of humankind’s most universal experiences. It often follows the death of a loved one. You may also go through it after experiencing other kinds of significant losses. There are several helpful ways to view the grieving process. One of the most common approaches is to break it down into a series of steps or stages.

An understanding of these stages may help you cope better with your thoughts and emotions. New Directions Mental Health provides residents of Pennsylvania with grief counseling that is tailored to the individual needs of those experiencing pain, loss, and grief.

Our compassionate and experienced team helps individuals process their grief in a safe environment. To learn more about how grief counseling can offer you or a loved one the support they need, call us today at 724.374.7414.

Defining Grief

Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something extremely important to you. The most well-known form of grieving comes in the aftermath of losing a loved one. However, you may also go through the same process if you do such things as lose your job or end a relationship. In addition, you may grieve the death of a pet or the loss of your health or well-being.

Certain kinds of emotions are classically associated with the grieving process. For example, you feel intense:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Loneliness

You may also experience general agony or emotional distress, as well as physical pain. In addition, you may feel disconnected from everyday reality.

What Are the Stages of Grief?

In the 1960s, a pioneering psychiatrist took the grieving process and broke it down into a series of five stages. In order, these stages are:

  1. Denial of the loss that has occurred
  2. Feelings of helplessness or frustration that turn into feelings of anger
  3. A bargaining stage where you try to make some sort of deal to ease your distress
  4. Feelings of depression
  5. Acceptance of the loss that’s occurred

Certain kinds of thoughts, reactions, and behaviors are common in each step of this sequence. For example, during denial, you may feel overwhelmed, numb, or in shock. During the anger stage, you may direct your feelings to a particular person or thing. That includes the person that’s died, other people, or God or some other higher power. You may also feel a more general sense of anger.

During the bargaining stage, it’s common to focus on things that might have prevented your loss. This often involves running through various what-if scenarios. Classic symptoms of grief-related depression include sadness, disrupted sleep, a poor appetite, and bouts of crying. When you reach the acceptance stage, you may still feel sad about what’s happened. However, you’re on your way to adjusting back to everyday life.

Important Things to Note About the Five Stages

The five stages of grief are a valuable conceptual tool. However, it’s important to remember that they might not precisely match your personal experiences. Why is this the case?

While grieving is universal, everyone encounters it in their own specific ways. Your experiences may be similar to those of other people. But they may also be distinctly different. For example, you may not go through all five grieving stages. You may also experience all the stages but go through them differently. Awareness of these kinds of variations can make it easier to understand grief, whether it affects you or someone else.

Call New Directions Mental Health to Get Help with the Stages of Grief

Few things are harder to cope with than losing a loved one. In the aftermath of such an event, you may recover on your own. However, you may also have difficulty handling the grieving process. If so, talk to the professionals at New Directions Mental Health. With our help, you may find it easier to navigate this demanding, distressing state. To learn more about our grief counseling services, call us today at 724.374.7414 or complete our contact online form.