Stages of Grief and How to Cope With Loss

Stages of Grief and How to Cope With Loss

If you are as old as me or maybe older, chances are that you have experienced the death of a loved one, or know someone who has been greatly affected by a loss. It is often very difficult to find the words to say to someone who has gone through a loss. It is even harder for us to find the right way to tell our own selfs that grieving is normal. Death is inevitable, and while we hope we never lose our loved ones we know that is just wishful thinking. Many professionals have classified grief into stages; aiming to explain what most people go through when faced with grief. The following is a brief introduction and description. Some of these may not be experience by all in the same order. Some even suggest that there are more stages than mentioned below. These are however the most commonly listed.

Stages of Grief

Stage 1: Denial

This stage usually occurs first almost immediately after hearing about the loss. People may know that the facts are a reality and that they have lost someone. They however cannot believe that the person will no longer call or be in their life. They in a sense do not wantย or refuse to believe they are gone although they understand that death is irreversible. They may not want to deal with the idea that their loss is forever.

Stage 2: Anger

This anger can be directed towards many people. We may feel mad at ourselves because we may believe we are at fault or that we could have changed the outcome if we could have only done X, Y, or Z. We may feel angry at the person who died because they “abandoned” us. We may be angry at the circumstance or the events leading to the loss. There may be direct anger at a third person whom may have been at fault for the loss. *Authors believe this stage is important because it allows the person going through grief to recognize their own emotions and may begin the path to healing. They are no longer denying themselves the right to feel and express such emotions.

Stage 3: Bargaining

This stage is most described as the “what if” stage. In this stage we may find ourselves wondering what would happen if things were changed. We begin to try to create alternate scenarios in our head that may lead to changes in events.

Stage 4: Depression

This is the stage that most people may associate with grief. The feelings of sadness may occur at the very instant we find out we have lost someone, but authors believe this stage is a necessary and important part of the grieving and healing process.

Stage 5: Acceptance

This stage may be the last stage for most people. They may begin to accept that things cannot be changed and their loved one(s) cannot come back. They may begin to reconcile with the idea that their life must go on despite the loss of an important person in their lives.


Grief is Healthy

I once had a psychology professor who told us he lost his father when he was a teenager. He said he never dealt with the feelings and that he pushed his emotions aside. He did not want to deal with the sadness so he ignored it. He went on to tell us that years later as an adult he found himself in a deep depression and began to severely mourn his father. He had suppressed his emotions for so long that when they appeared he was going through the loss all over again.

  • Like mentioned before, the above stages are not set in stone. Some people skip through stages and go straight to feeling depressed.
  • Some stages become combined and people feel all these things at once.
  • suppressing emotions does not make them go away for ever, and sadly death is something we may encounter more than once in our lives.
  • Grieving is healthy, and may take longer for some people. That is okay

Grief is different for everyone

  • Some people may be too afraid or embarrassed to admit that they feel grief or are going through one of the stages. This may affect the amount of time it takes for them to heal from a loss (Bolden, 2007).
  • Bolden (2007) tells us that grief may look and feel different depending on the type of loss we experience. Since we may not know the extent of our loss or meaning of our loss until later, we may not be aware of how much it may affect us.

How to deal with or help someone going to a loss

I have lost a lot of people close to me. Too many to count. I have met people my age who have never went to a funeral or who have never lost someone close to them. What I have found is that it is never easy to find the right words to say, because frankly there really is not a perfect response to give them. Here are the things that have helped me.

  • Refrain from saying things like “I understand what you are going through.” People are more likely to feel like their situation is unique to them and they may not want to hear a general response like that from you. Instead you can say things like “I may not fully know what you are going through right now, but I want you to know that I am here to support you.”
  • Never tell someone to “get over it.” Grief is felt different and not everyone can just “get over” situations. If you feel that someone is taking maybe longer to deal with grief then you can offer to help them look for resources that may help them.
  • Constant reminders: If you are going through a loss then you have to remember that the emotions you are feeling are not dumb or weird and that feeling sadness does not make you weak. You will get better at your own time, but you can take all the time you need.
  • * In my opinion grief happens in waves. While we may think we have healed, certain memories may resurface long after and we may find ourselves going through the stages all over again

As always thank you for reading and I hope that you have found this information useful. Do not be ashamed to seek help if you find yourself lost in this stage of your life. Grief is normal, and healing is healthy. I have added some resources below that I used to write some of this post. Some of the authors include books that you may find helpful and information that may resonate with you.



Bolden, L. A. (2007). A Review of On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Counseling & Values, 51(3), 235-237.

Hartshorne, T. S. (2003). Grief and Mourning from an Adlerian Perspective. Journal Of Individual Psychology, 59(2), 145.

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0 Responses to Stages of Grief and How to Cope With Loss

  1. lloyjennifer says:

    Hey. This is Jennifer from Hope Artistry. I enjoy reading your content and I am wondering if you accept my nomination for the Liebster award.
    As long as you have less than 200 followers.
    Let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

    Best Jennifer

  2. Melissa A. says:

    Hi Elena, this was a good post. I must be normal for the most part because I experienced my grief in the same order as you listed. It took a long time though, and the depression stage has never went away, although it’s been going on 15 years now.

    Yes, I’m older than you – about 24 years older! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ So far, beginning at the age of seven, I have lost six loved ones. There is one particular death that I will never get over. Or I guess I should say that I’ll never forget. It affected me so deeply, that a part of me was broken – and still is. But I’m okay with it. I don’t think about it every day.

    At the time, I didn’t have any support when I was grieving for this person, so I starting writing in journals. All of my emotions poured out onto the pages. I filled about 5 or 6 notebooks, and I still have them all. But I don’t read them now – I keep them for sentimental reasons.

    In fact, I highly recommend keeping a journal when grieving. It’s a good way to record special memories and a way to get those emotions out. Even if the pages are soaked with tears. And don’t worry about telling others what happened – in detail – over and over again. I think this is another coping method, and is normal.

    Thanks for sharing another insightful post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Melissa,
      Thank you once again for reading and sharing your story. I think it is a great idea to find something that helps you cope, especially when it comes to loss. I am sorry to hear that you are still going through it but you sound like you are a very strong person and have found an amazing way to make your grief something that has strengthened you. Although it may never go away, I think it is important to seek support but at times it may be hard to talk about it. I have done journaling before and I agree completely with you that it can really help release emotions. Maybe one day when you look back at those journals you will realize how far you have come. Thank you once again and I am glad you have enjoyed my content.

  3. Rebecca says:

    A guide such as this should be available to everyone! Not just those experiencing grief first hand but also those in the company of those grieving! Great work!

    • Rebecca,
      Thank you for reading and for your kind words. At times it is so hard to find the words to tell someone going through a loss. All I used to say was “i am sorry for your loss,” then I would not check back with them to see how they were doing. I later realized that if they mattered to me I should have offered my help in any way. Thank you again and I hope that you stick around to read my future content.

  4. Wow! perfectly quoted… very interesting to knoq

  5. My last blog post was a tribute to a lost loved one.

    I find that my next scheduled (series of 3 posts I AM. Faith | Revelation | Hoping | Acceptance) follows in a similar vein, in that the person has been told to accept he’s in the final stages of life. These topics weren’t my intention. However, they came to me, and I felt the need to record the experiences.

    The person who is facing his mortality is in the denial stage. Has resided there for a long time..and it seems to be working for him…lol. His doctors say they aren’t sure why he’s still alive, other than he’s a stubborn fighter!

    It’s tough.

  6. Paya says:

    I never knew how to talk to someone in grief. I just cannot find any words.
    You cannot really cheer someone up, laugh about it or say “it will get better” as we hear it so many times, nobody believes it anymore.
    Any advice how to approach a grieving person so it wouldn’t get misunderstood?

    • Paya
      It really is hard but if they are important to you then you need to offer them your support. I would simply tell them ” I cannot imagine what you are going through, but I want you to know that I am here for you.” Offer them your support and let them know they can trust you if they need anything. Sometimes all people want to know is that they have someone on their corner. And give them space to grieve. Thanks again for reading and I hope that you stick around for more content

  7. Richard says:

    Elena, really enjoyed reading this post on grief. It was powerful.You have a real gift to capture of capturing people’s hearts. Keep writing, your a breath of fresh air.

  8. Richard says:

    Elena, really enjoyed reading this post on grief. It was powerful.You have a real gift of capturing peopleโ€™s hearts. Keep writing, your a breath of fresh air.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I know people would have a more open mind if they ventured out and read things from other’s point of view. I appreciate that you took the time to read comment

  9. KiarnaJayne says:

    This is a really helpful post and gives me an insight as to how to handle a situation like this! beautifully written too.

  10. nice the content is superb

  11. Thanks for sharing this. Grief is such a complicated emotion and it impacts everyone in different ways at different times.

  12. Grief to me is so complicated. We experience it differently. And I personally think the most difficult part is trying to help someone who is grieving. It is not always easy to find the right words to say to them. Btw, I love your way of writing. Found your blog on Community pool.


  13. Grieving is so important and I am not sure it ever truly ends. I had an especially difficult time trying to process and say things to the people I know who have lost children. Sometimes it just feels like saying something is worse than giving them space, but at the same time I don’t want them to think I am heartless. This post definitely helped to shape my perspective on how to handle an interaction with a grieving person.

    • Grieving is definitely a stage in life that at times we cannot avoid. Sadly as we get older we experience a lot more death around us. I have found when I’m going through a loss that it is helpful to know that people will be there to talk when ever I am ready. Thanks again for reading and commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just subscribed to yours as well ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yes, I fear for the season of life where I begin losing more people around me. I am 27 and have lost 2 of my grandparents. I am terrified of losing my parents and my in laws. I know it is a part of life though. It definitely helps me to talk about it, some people are opposite of that and would rather be silent. Either way it’s never easy losing someone you love and care about. Thank you for the subscribe ๐Ÿ˜Š