Lawrence E. Kincade, Ph.D., LCSW > Stages of Grief and Loss


Shock and Denial - "No, it can't be true"

Often people need this time to cushion the pain of the loss.  It can be characterized by a numbness, disbelief or feelings of surrealism.  Except for a rare few, people do not need to be confronted and will come out of this phase by themselves.

 

Anger - "Why me?"   "Why her?"

These feelings may be directed at the person who died, an event or other people.  It is important to allow the grievers to experience their anger without being critical or judging whether the anger is appropriate.

 

Bargaining - "Yes, it's true, but....."

This is the beginning of acceptance.  The need here is to let the mourners make the agreements they need with a spiritual force, with the person who died and with others, as need be.  On their own, people will decide - when they are ready - if these promises can be fulfilled.

 

Depression - "Yes, it has happened to me (us)."

The mourning process is being worked through.  The mourners begin to separate emotionally and may accept offerings of support.

 

Acceptance - "Yes, I am ready to face the world again."

This is not a resignation, rather an acceptance of the realities and the need to "pick-up the pieces" and move on.

 

Please know that these are not pristine stages that grievers will, necessarily, move through in clear and definable steps.  Dependent upon previous coping strengths or past losses, especially multiple recent losses, people may have complicated and prolonged grieving reactions.