Stages of Grief Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are There So Many Numbers on the Stages of Grief?
There has been some debate about why there are so many stages of grief.
Friends and family often talk about the five stages of grief.
The concept of dividing grief into stages is much older and came originally from the works of psychologists John Bowlby and Colin Murray-Parks, who had written an extensive amount of literature on bereavement.
four stages of grief based on interviews with widows, e.g., Numbness, Yearning and Protest, Despair and disorganisation, and Reorganisation and recovery.
Then, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross conducted a series of interviews with terminally ill people and wrote in her book “On Death and Dying” that
grief can be divided into five stages.
She based her theory on years of working experience with terminally ill people, and later it became a publicly known Kübler-Ross model.
The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance to describe the experience of impending death.
Though these stages haven’t been tested in any systematic way but are still being widely accepted as a part of a normal cycle of grief.
The 7-stage model of grief is a slightly newer model highlighted in “The Book on Death” by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross.
The model includes some key emotions that were missing in the previous model. All the grief stages are the same as in the 5-stage model, with two additional stages of shock and bargaining being introduced.
The model begins with shock and belief, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, and acceptance.
What's the Difference Between Stages of Grief and Grieving Process?
One of the commonly held misconceptions by the public is that grief proceeds in stages. If you’re already familiar with stages of grief, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross deserves the credit for it.
But what you may not know is that she didn’t originally develop the stages to explain what people experience after losing a loved one. Instead, the aim was to describe the patient’s feelings going through a terminal illness.
The five stages, denial, anger, bargain, depression, and acceptance were applied later to the patients’ grieving family members who were experiencing similar feelings after the death.
Turned out, the grieving process isn’t as simple as it looks. Studies have shown that
grievers don’t systematically go through these stages.
When we lose a loved one, we may find these stages fitting precisely as Kubler-Ross explained, or we may skip all but one.
We may even repeat the stages or race through them to the last stage, acceptance. Even Kubler-Ross mentions that grief doesn’t proceed predictably.
The actual grief process is not a well-ordered set of stages, but more like an emotional roller-coaster.
Is There A Difference Between Stages and Phases of Grief?
Bowlby and Parkes proposed phases of grief in the early 1960s, while Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief came out in 1969 and have become the most widely used model by psychiatrists and mental health professionals.
Both models describe the process of grief with slight differences.
The 1st stage of Kübler-Ross’s grief stage model, “denial” resembles what Bowlby and Parkes’s phase model named numbness and shock.
The 2nd stage “anger” of Elizabeth’s model departs from the Phase model “Yearning and longing”. The griever demands to understand why the loss or illness has happened to them, whereas in the phase model the griever experiences the feeling of longing for the deceased.
In the 3rd stage, bargaining. The bereaved desires to undo the cause of loss, or death during the grief phase “disorganisation and despair” which is marked by the feelings of withdrawal and disengagement and can be connected to Ross’s model stage 4, “depression”
Then comes the fifth and last stage acceptance, which is like the 4th phase of grief “Reorganisation and Recovery” in which the grieving person accepts the new reality and returns to the new normal.
Are the Stages of Grief Linear?
Grief is not a linear process and can be particular to each individual. We may skip, revisit, or linger in stages according to our circumstances.
Everyone has a different grief process and may experience the phases of grief in an entirely distinct order or some phases, not at all.
There’s no specific order to grieve. Each of the grief stages may or you may not experience them in a certain order.
Are Stages of Grief Always in Order?
The stages of grief don’t always happen in the already fixed Sequence. The experience of grief is unique to each individual and may not be well-captured by the fixed sequence of stages.
You may go through each stage one by one or experience multiple stages at a time on your way to healing. You’ll find yourself at acceptance, and then suddenly you’ll bounce back to bargaining or denial.
The last stage of grief may not be the stage for some people to go through before completely accepting the truth. Any stage can lead you towards acceptance, all you have to remember is that it’s your grief and only you can find the best way to overcome it.
Are the Five Stages of Grief Always Relevant?
Not everyone experiences all five stages of grief. Some people experience grief in the same sequence while for some the order may be jumbled, certain stages may rise to prominence more than once, and the progression of stages may stall.
Is there a Difference Between Stages of Grief and Stages of Loss?
Grief is a natural emotional response to a loss such as losing a loved one, pet, job, or way of life. The more significant the loss, the more intense is grief going to be. The stages of grief are the same as stages of loss as you can’t feel the one in the absence of the other.
What Happens When We Don’t Grieve?
The sudden death of a loved one can leave a person shocked for a while, delaying the grieving process. When the person doesn’t deal with feelings of grief properly, it could lead to acute depression or worse.
Does Grief Get Worse Before It Gets Better?
One thing about grief no one tells you about grief is that it will get worse before it gets better.
The most tough time comes 4-6 months after a loss. The numbness and shock wear off and you felt a new reality.
This experience can be hard because your family and friends may expect you to feel better at precisely the time you're at your worst.
How Long Does It Take to Go Through the Stages of Grief?
There is no specific timeline for how long it would take to go through the stages of grief. After a year, it may still feel like it happened yesterday or may feel like it happened a lifetime ago.
It takes at least a year to realise what has changed in your life without the deceased while coping with long-term grief.
How Long is it Appropriate to Grieve?
How long it takes to grieve varies from person to person and may be influenced by several factors.
For example, the bereaved person dealing with anticipated grief may find it easier to process their grief faster and move forward with their life. While the bereaved person experiencing complicated or prolonged grief may find the grieving process to last for a year or longer.
What are the Signs of Mourning?
We can describe mourning as an outward expression of grieving the loss of a loved one. It usually involves rituals determined by the culture to make sense of the death of their loved one.
The common signs of mourning include Agitation, anxiety, apathy, anger, emptiness, despair, fear, guilt, isolation, loneliness, Numbness, impatience, sadness, etc.
What are the Five Types of Grief According to Elisabeth Kübler Ross?
Denial according to Elisabeth is the first stage of grief when the bereaved person refuses to believe the loss and pretends like it hasn’t happened. It’s the emotional coping mechanism to the overwhelming shock.
In this stage, the bereaved person uses anger as a masking effect. The bereaved are easily triggered and even think about getting revenge from whoever or whatever they perceive to cause that loss.
Bargaining is also the 7th stage in the seven-step grief model in which the bereaved person look for the impossible ways to reverse their loss like making plea bargains with their high-power to regain control of their life.
During this stage, the bereaved person feel extreme hopelessness and loose the zest for life. After moving past the rage and asking high-power to reverse the outcome, reality sets in and can lead to both sadness and clinical depression.
The last stage in grief stage theory is acceptance in which the bereaved person come to terms with their loss and it becomes more manageable. It doesn’t mean that the grief is over, or the happy phase is going to start.
How Long Does Anger Stage of Grief Last?
Anger is one of the most complex human emotions to deal with. Once the person realises that the loss is real, they start feeling rage, which is a normal part of the grieving process.
How long the anger stage lasts is different for everyone, but through practicing relaxation, meditation, and self-care techniques you can successfully move through the anger stage of grief.
What is the Basic Problem with Kübler Ross's Five Stages of Grief?
The model implies that failure to complete all stages of grief would cause multiple complications, although after capturing the views of both professional and lay community, the model has been widely criticised and has been empirically rejected.