What Stage of Grief Are You In?
By Jean Wright
Over the years, mental health researchers have tried to
explain the bereavement process by proposing stage of
grief theories. There are actually several "models" out
there, including 3 stages of grief, 5 stages, 7, 8 and
even the "new" stages of grief.
Below, we describe what we think is the best model, the
"New Stages of Grief". First though, we want to issue a
warning to you. As Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in
grief theory stated, she never meant for her own 5-stage
grief theory model to "help tuck messy emotions into
Grief IS messy. It is not predictable and does not
follow a set progression through a neat little
timetable. There may be times when you stop, loop back
to a prior stage, or even miss one altogether. One day
you may feel you have made a lot of progress through
your grief, only to be smacked back down by a new wave
of overwhelming despair. That is okay. It all is normal.
Just as long as you see change or some overall progress
over time, you are doing okay with your grief.
So just what stage of grief are you in right now? The
New Stages of Grief are outlined below:
Shock/Denial- Disbelief; unreality; you may find
yourself unable to function. You may be very angry and
try to lay blame for the death on someone: the doctor,
hospital staff, family members, or even yourself. You
may well find yourself in a spiritual crisis ("Why did
God allow this to happen?") This stage lasts from weeks
to a few months.
Suffering- This stage begins when the shock wears off...
and the pain sets in. This is really "the heart" of your
bereavement; the reality of your enormous loss really
becomes apparent. Outsiders may start telling you it is
time to "move on". Which is hogwash! It's just not
possible to process a serious bereavement in a few short
months. And sadly, you must endure this prolonged stage
of heavy sadness in order to heal properly. There are no
(healthy) shortcuts. This stage usually lasts between
Recovery-Sometime after a year has passed, you may
realize you are starting to think about the future.
Glimmers of hope and happiness begin to return. Your
grievous loss will never totally leave you, nor should
it. But it will gradually recede into the background of
your daily life. The recovery stage can take a long
time; it can take two years or even longer to fully
resolve your grief.
No matter which stage of grief you may find yourself in,
try to take heart from the research done on the
bereavement process. Grief does eventually lead to a
much more tolerable existence, if you can just endure as
you are carried along. There are some known coping
strategies that can help make your journey more
comfortable and healthy; you can access some of these
grief coping tips in the resource box below.