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Understanding the 7 Stages of Grief

October 21, 2021

Below are some ways to help you understand the seven stages of grief and how to assist someone you know who’s grieving into recovery when they are ready. 

Infographic created by Natalie Karlson

The Seven Stages of Grief do not have a specific order. There is also no rule saying anyone must experience each step. Some professionals may also narrow the list down to five stages. 

Shock and Denial: 

This stage gives the brain time to absorb and understand the news and how heavily it was relied on. It also acts to numb the brain, lessening the impact in such a short window. 

Pain and Guilt:

When the loss is recognized the pain is too. The mind will oftentimes reflect on the past, overthinking on what should have been done differently. Logic and reasoning do not always align here, but that doesn’t necessarily stop the flow of emotions.

Anger and Bargaining:

Commonly, frustration develops from blame. That can be towards oneself, another person, an entire situation, or a higher power such as God. The subject of blame could also become the target for receiving a second chance or alternate outcome.

Depression:

Reflecting on the time that has passed without having this significant subject will lead to sadness. A relative lack of interest in continuing life as it is now. Having a strong support system is most crucial at this step. Others will be able to help avoid harmful thoughts directed towards one’s well being.

Upward Turn:

The point at which good things happen and are noticed. This could be an occasional smile, laugh, or a characteristic that has returned since the loss. Described as “feeling a little less pain”, and returning to a state of normality.

Reconstruction and Working Through:

This step is not always included in the list, but consists of having more control. That could be mentally, physically, or just getting a strong hold on one’s emotions. 

Acceptance:

The last and final stage. The emotion that is most referred to in this step is hope. Hope for the future, and move forward with life. Nothing is ever forgotten, and there will be moments of grief. There will be an overall acknowledgment of what has happened, but also continuing on and not dwelling too hard on what-could’ve-been.

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