Exploring the Seven Stages of Grief

Southern Cremations and Funerals offers help through a difficult time

The seven stages of grief are universal and are experienced by people all over the world following the death of a beloved friend or loved one. When we lose someone, our mourning commonly goes through a cycle of different emotions to help us cope psychologically with the loss and process our feelings.

While these stages are universal to the human experience, they are not a road map to the mourning process. People will experience each stage very differently and they may occur out of order, or repeat some stages before finally reaching acceptance of the loss. Someone may experience only a few of them, or easily work through one stage while another stage takes months or even years to move past.

However, despite these individual differences in how people experience loss and death, the seven stages of grief remain a helpful guide for understanding where your emotions come from and what you can expect and prepare for after losing a loved one.

Stage 1: Shock

Often the first response people have to the loss of a loved one is shock or the feeling of numb disbelief. This response helps protect you from being overwhelmed all at once by a flood of emotions.

Stage 2: Denial

You may try to protect yourself by moving into a state of denial about the loss. You may say to yourself that there is no way this is happening to you, or that the situation couldn’t possibly be real. While you may be making funeral arrangements, your brain has not emotionally processed the loss and is choosing to ignore it.

Stage 3: Guilt

As your shock wears off, the pain begins to become real. The loss will be emotionally devastating and you may feel regret or guilt over things you said or did, or even things left unsaid.

Stage 4: Anger

As your guilt begins to set in, the loss and pain you are experiencing gets channeled into anger. This anger may present itself in a variety of ways and be directed at yourself, your deceased loved one, inanimate objects, or family and friends. Directing our anger towards something helps take our emotion away from our own vulnerability and sadness and aim it at something else.

Stage 5: Bargaining

Feelings of helplessness and the flood of emotion can make you feel like you need to take control of the situation. However, as this is an impossibility our brain attempts to regain control through unreasonable bargaining. “If they can come back, I will never get frustrated again.” This bargaining may be with a higher power, or even just with yourself.

Stage 6: Depression

Once the reality of the impossibility of the situation changing sets in, many people will experience depression and sadness. People may feel helpless in the face of the world and be saddened by their inability to change the inevitable. This is not, however, clinical depression and anyone suffering from clinical depression should seek professional help.

Stage 7: Acceptance

Eventually, people will move into acceptance of the loss and, while they may still feel sadness about it, they are not overwhelmed by emotions. They can remember their loved one with fondness and celebrate and cherish the memories that remain.

Honoring a Loved One’s Memory

Working through your grief after losing a loved one is a very personal process that is important for mourning. The highest priority at Southern Cremations and Funerals in Marietta, Georgia, is helping the families and friends of a departed loved one honor his or her memory and life with thoughtful tributes that commemorate a life and legacy.

Contact Southern Cremations and Funerals at (770) 766-5067 or fill out our online contact form for more information about our funeral and cremation services.