Steps of grief death

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

The 5 Stages of Grieving: Dealing with Death of a Loved One

The pain when someone you love dies is unexplainably unbearable. You ask yourself, “Will this pain ever end?” You may have feelings of shock, anger, profound sadness, confusion, and disbelief. Grieving is a normal response to loss. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, but there is a healthy process of dealing with the death of a family member or close friend.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a renowned psychiatrist, developed a theory called “The Five Stages of Grief.” The process involved when dealing with a loved one’s death is calledDABDA,” which stands for denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The five stages of grief do not only apply when dealing with the death of a loved one; it also applies to divorce, perceived significant life changes, miscarriage, job loss, or the diagnosis of a terminal illness.

The 5 Stages of the Grieving Process

This article will focus on the stages of the grieving process when dealing with the death of a loved one. There is no specific time frame for getting over the loss of a dearly beloved.

Not all who experience the loss of a special person will go through all stages of grief, and that’s okay. You don’t have to go through all these five stages of grief. The theory was developed as a guide to give us an idea of which emotions are experienced in grief. The theory also answers your questions about why you’re feeling the way you are after losing someone.  

1. Denial

Denial is the first stage of the grief experience. What is your first response when you hear the news that someone died? It’s most likely disbelief. You can’t seem to properly face the reality of the situation, especially if the death is sudden or you just talked to that person yesterday.

The denial stage is an attempt to absorb and understand the news. It’s a common defense mechanism in the grief process to survive the pain. It is the stage where you take the time to adjust to the new reality. This is the time when you question yourself on how to go forward through life without this person’s presence.

2. Anger

A common response when someone dies is anger. This stage of grief can last for days, weeks, or even months. This stage may also involve feelings of frustration, anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty.

In the anger stage, you find yourself blaming the doctors, caregivers, God, or even yourself if there is something you could have done to avoid the death of your loved one. There are so many questions that cross your mind, like why is this happening to you. You feel the anger rise as you ask more questions.

There’s so much emotion in the new reality to process that you use anger to avoid or confront the situation. When you feel angry, try to seek help from friends or other family members. Remember that you do not grieve alone; other people in your life are experiencing pain, too. This is the time to be there for each other, and together you can deal with your anger issues. 

3. Bargaining

This is the stage where you tell yourself, “I would do anything just to bring my dearly beloved back.” You may keep asking yourself “what if” questions. These are moments when you feel desperate to do almost anything or bargain anything to have that loved one back.

During the bargaining stage, you may tend to look back on the moments you spent with your dearly beloved. You recall the times when you had misunderstandings or caused your dearly beloved pain. How you wish you could turn back time and behave differently.

You may be in a painful place where you’ll do anything to turn back time. During this stage after the loss, remember to take it easy on yourself. Please do not blame yourself or other people for what happened and try to accept the loss slowly. 

4. Depression

The fourth stage of the grieving process after a loss is depression. The denial, anger, and bargaining start to dwindle as you slowly begin to face the situation. The feelings of sadness grow, and the pain is unavoidable at this point. Going through depression after a friend or family member’s death may cause you to become less sociable and affect your eating and sleeping patterns.

During the depression stage, don’t let your grief get the best of you. Avoid isolating yourself and get the help you need. Talk to a loved one or a mental health professional to learn how to cope with the loss healthily. 

5. Acceptance

The acceptance stage starts when you no longer struggle with facing the reality of the situation. You still feel pain and still cry, but you begin to accept the reality of your loved one’s death. The acceptance stage doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re totally okay, but you have accepted to go on with life while acknowledging the loss.

It’s like telling yourself, “My husband died, but eventually, I will be okay. ” You start to accept that life goes on, and despite the pain and grief, you have to move on. This is where you start to keep yourself busy with productive ways to spend your day. Tell yourself that you have an angel guiding you in everything you do. 

How to Grieve Healthily After the Loss of a Loved One

There is no wrong or right way to grieve, but there is a healthy way to express grief. If you recently experienced the loss of a dearly beloved, the key is not to isolate yourself from those who can support you.

As you experience grief, you may find yourself preferring to withdraw yourself from others. You will find it easier to deal with the loss if you have your friends and family with you. You don’t need to talk about the loss every time you interact with them. Just being in their presence is good enough.

If you recently experienced a loss, try to avoid unhealthy behaviors like drinking too much and substance abuse. Try to live a productive life, focus on what you have, spend time with your family, take care of your physical and mental health, and look forward to healing from the pain.

Try to accept the grief by drawing comfort in your faith, joining a support group, or talking to a counselor. If you need to talk to someone and learn how to live with grief, schedule an appointment with Kentucky Counseling Center now. Our therapists will help you process your grief so you can eventually look forward to happy days ahead.

Five stages of accepting death

The death of a loved one is the biggest blow that fate can inflict on his family and friends. The grief of loss for many months becomes a silent companion of those who survived the loss, constantly reminding of their presence with bouts of anger, longing, apathy. The consequences of this tragedy may be felt many years after the deceased was buried. How can you help a grieving person get over this misfortune?

Structure of grief

Any questions related to the experience of grief do not have simple answers. Throughout history, humanity has tried to understand what is behind the feeling of loss, and to find effective ways to alleviate the suffering associated with it. Different cultures have developed their own approaches to this problem. In most of them, the priests provided consolation to the people who experienced the loss, turning to religious doctrine to explain the tragedy that had occurred. It was only in the middle of the 20th century that the first attempts were made to approach grief as an object of scientific research and to systematize the lived experience. nine0003

Since then, many theories and classifications have appeared that offer their own explanation of the psycho-emotional structure of grief. Although there are many differences between them, most psychologists agree that the process of experiencing grief can be divided into several phases, which the mourner must overcome on the way to peace of mind. These stages are characterized by different perceptions of the sense of loss. The five most commonly heard are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This model was developed by the Swiss scientist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross on the basis of her experience with terminally ill patients and is described in the book "On Death and Dying", published in 1969. Her work started the discussion of mourning.

The Kubler-Ross model is not a strict guide to mourning: the scientist herself insisted that not every person goes through the above stages in a given sequence and within a specified time frame. However, her scheme allows us to understand the mechanisms behind the experience of grief, and at a difficult moment to provide the mourner with the right support.

Stage I. Numbness

The first reaction to loss is shock or numbness. In the first days after the death of a loved one, a feeling of unreality of what is happening and mental numbness appear in the mind. The mourner seems to be absent from the present, trying to comprehend the fullness and irretrievability of the loss. For some, this is expressed in the form of stupor, apathy, while others plunge headlong into activity, trying to distract themselves from heavy thoughts. Some people experience a state of so-called depersonalization: feelings become dull, emptiness appears in the head, connection with the body is lost, the surrounding reality is perceived as if through glass. nine0003

In general, any of these reactions, if mild, are a natural and normal part of the mourning process. The closer the connection with the deceased was, the more difficult it is to realize the loss and the longer it may take to survive this numbness. At this time, it is important to be close to the person and help him stay in touch with reality and his feelings: talk to him, make sure that he drinks and eats, rub his limbs to restore sensitivity. However, one should not interfere with the "digestion" of grief. It must be remembered that each person experiences loss in his own way, and without unnecessary need to disrupt this process is not worth it - whether it be a man or a woman, if a person needs to cry, let him cry, if you need to be with the dead, let him stay. To survive grief, it must be released. nine0003

Stage II. Negative

Not everyone realizes grief instantly. As the mourner realizes the loss with his mind and returns to the usual rhythm of life, on a subconscious level, he still often cannot accept that a loved one has left forever and it will not be possible to return him. In this state, people can somehow notice the deceased in the crowd, hear his voice or "recognize" his steps. Often they have dreams about the deceased - in this way consciousness releases grief outward, turning still not conscious feelings into images. nine0003

The manifestations of grief in themselves are a positive sign - only in this way, a person will be able to survive it and regain their peace of mind. At this time, it is important to help him do this. Don't emotionally withdraw or restrict the mourner (or yourself) from expressing emotions: rather, talk to him, keep talking about the deceased, and help him express his feelings in ways that are safe for him and those around him, such as crying.

Stage III. Despair and anger

Although in the Kubler-Ross model of mourning, which describes, first of all, the process of accepting death by hopeless patients, the 3rd stage is called "trading", in the case of the relatives of the deceased, it would be more correct to call it despair. This is the period of greatest suffering. At this stage, a person understands the irretrievability of the loss, and he is overwhelmed by a storm of conflicting emotions from helplessness to anger. The mourner may be angry at the deceased, the doctors who could not save his life, relatives and friends for "insensitivity" and "neglect" to the tragedy. Feelings of anxiety, fear of death, even guilt cover him. Sometimes these emotions become so strong that the mourner begins to take them out on others. nine0003

Treat with understanding the emotional outbursts of the mourner. Behind them lies an attempt to regain a sense of control over what is happening and to cope with helplessness in the face of death. However, it is important not to let the person dwell on them. This can lead to aggravation of his grief and physical symptoms: lack of appetite, poor sleep quality, decreased performance and concentration.

Stage IV Residual Sorrow

Sooner or later, grief is dulled, and life returns to its usual course. The mourner accepts the death of a loved one and, as it were, "lets go" of him. Gradually, grief decreases to the level of light sadness, and memories are shifted from death to joyful events from the life of the deceased. Sleep and appetite return, working capacity is restored. Attacks of melancholy become less frequent and weaker. All this may indicate that the work of mourning is proceeding correctly and the person is adapting to grief. nine0003

Stage V. Accepting the loss

Everyone who has experienced the pain of loss knows that after six months or a year from the date of death, grief returns, and sometimes it hits with no less force than immediately after the death of the deceased. No matter how acute his attack is, the consciousness has already developed mechanisms for managing grief, and therefore it passes faster. However, this does not mean that the mourner does not need the participation and support of others. The best way to cope with longing is to arrange a funeral feast or family gathering, where those present can share their experiences and bright memories of the deceased. nine0003

You might be interested:

  • Psychologist's help for those who mourn the death of a loved one
  • Thanatology - the science of death
  • How to explain to a child what death is

January 14, 2021

5 stages of accepting death and 12 steps on how to survive the death of a loved one

Five stages of accepting death (Kubler-Ross model). How to deal with grief? 12 steps to help survive the death of a loved one.


  • 5 stages of grief acceptance
  • Amendments to model
  • 12 practical steps

5 stages of grief acceptance

Why know this? All people have much in common in their experiences, emotions and feelings. With all the differences in culture and religion, personal experience and beliefs, basic human reactions to pain, shock and loss are quite close. Understanding how this pain occurs and what happens afterward will help you get through difficult times more easily and recover faster. nine0003

Feelings of a dying person

Since 1965, a group of research students under the patronage of psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross have observed dying people in order to understand their attitude towards inevitable death. Classes outgrew constant practice, a training course, and then Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote and published the book "On Death and Dying" , which became a bestseller.

In it, she summarized her experience and identified five stages in the perception of the inevitability of imminent death for an incurable disease. Here she summarized her experience and identified five stages in the perception of death .

Five stages of acceptance of death
  1. The first phase of acceptance is anger, denial when a person wants to ignore the fact itself.
  2. The second phase is "deal" : "If I act one way or another, God or fate will have mercy, and the disease will recede."
  3. When a dying person realizes that "bargaining" is pointless, despair comes .
  4. Then comes the "preparatory" depression, when people have already accepted the fact that the end is near and inevitable. At this moment he needs silence, he needs to prepare. The person is gradually moving away.
  5. The time comes when he crosses the line between life and death .

What to say to a dying person?

The evolution of acceptance of the death of a loved one, although it does not exactly repeat these phases, but echoes the awareness of death by oneself. nine0040

Amendments to the Kübler-Ross model

A more modern model offers the seven stages of grief , adding some key emotions that are not included in the Kübler-Ross work.

7 stages of grief

The seven stages of grief begin with shock and disbelief , and add guilt , none of which are included in the five stages. All seven stages of grief occur: shock and disbelief, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, acceptance. nine0003

5 stages or 7 is not the point. Scientific purity and accuracy are important for scientists, but it is enough for us to understand that pain is not eternal . The framework of the five (seven) stages does not define what to do - they give us the language to understand what happens to us when we mourn. How to survive grief depends, first of all, on ourselves.

12 Steps to Grieving

1. Accepting the fact of death

The realization that this has happened marks the first step towards recovery. Grief at this moment is natural and normal. Recognizing the role and value of the grieving process suggests that there is a time frame. We can gradually move out of the grief stage. nine0003

2. Everyone experiences grief in their own way

A grieving person is sympathized with everything that gives the right to mutual understanding and support. Recognition of the uniqueness of experiences allows the relatives and friends of the deceased to determine the format of mourning according to their ideas and the will of the deceased.

3. Shock and numbness

We become numb when someone we love dies. We are dazed and in a trance. So nature protects us from tragedy. The duration and depth of the stressful state depends on the relationship, the cause of death, whether it was sudden or expected, etc. Shock gives us time to realize what happened and begin to adjust. nine0003

Participation and care of neighbors will support at this extreme moment. As the numbness wears off and acceptance grows, we regain control of ourselves and our lives.

4. Loneliness causes depression

Those who mourn often, although to varying degrees, experience loneliness and depression . This pain will also pass. Solitude does not necessarily lead to loneliness. Connecting with others is a key way to reduce loneliness and overcome depression.

5. Prolonged stress is harmful to health

Mental and emotional distress associated with loss due to death causes physical stress and vulnerability to disease. It happens that grieving people neglect a healthy diet and lifestyle, abuse alcohol, smoking or drugs.

Do not neglect the advice of a doctor in case of alarming symptoms.

6. One should not consider oneself defective

The death of a loved one brings uncertainty into the future, up to panic in the face of fear, how to continue to live without a loved one. Panic encourages us to hide from life and refuse to be active.

Ask for and accept help. Feel free to talk about the difficulties, it does not make you worse.

Self-respect and willingness to accept help will enable us to overcome our fear of the future.

7. Those who mourn experience guilt

After the death of a loved one, many blame themselves for both the death itself and mistakes in relationships. We've all made mistakes and sincere regret is the best answer to them . However, self-flagellation affects our mental health and makes it difficult to cope with grief. Close friends, conversations at the Death Cafe, or counseling can help you deal with guilt.

8. Finding someone to blame

People in grief ask: "Why?" Why he? Why me? Why now? Why is that? Most of these questions have no answers, which causes resentment and anger. We want someone to blame: God, doctors, the church, ourselves, even the one who died.

Instead of the question "Why?" you need to look for the answer to the question "What can we do now?" to cope with grief and loss. And move from anger to hope.

9. Speak your emotions!

Death unbalances, and the intensity of feelings seems overwhelming. Communication with a friend or girlfriend and with other relatives can help you reflect on your feelings and deal with them. nine0003

Express your feelings ! Write letters, talk to loved ones, talk to pictures or animals, it doesn't matter. Don't keep grief to yourself!

Write an obituary!

10. Goals of life

Sometimes grief paralyzes the will. In grief, even habitual and necessary work can be a burden. Thoughts float, and it is difficult to concentrate. But it's time to give thanks for the past and start thinking about the future, turn the page and set priority goals. nine0003

11. Hope

It takes time, but gradually hope is born in people who have lost loved ones. We are learning again to talk about death and express emotions without embarrassment or guilt. We still cherish the memories, but we begin to feel anxious about responsibilities and show interest in other people. Finally, we make decisions and take responsibility.

Learn more