5 Stages of the Grieving Process

Every person is respectfully unique and personal when they grieve the loss of a loved one. Coping with the loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can fathom. No parent should ever out live their child. Understanding the stages can help an individual understand the emotions that can and will surface. No two people will grieve the same.

There are 5 stages of the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not all people go through all the stages and they aren’t meant to occur in a chronological order although some may grieve step by step. Some people alternate between steps and some may skip one.

As mentioned before, everyone faces grief at their own pace and pursue it uniquely.

DenialFoggy scene

The first stage of the grieving process is like a thick dense fog. We are not able to process what has happened and cannot believe it is true, even though we know it is. Our mind protects us this way. We are in shock and are not ready to accept the loss.

How can we live without our child? How can I live another day without my boy? Why should I keep living? Life becomes meaningless.

Our every day routine becomes a major chore. Getting dressed for the day is a task. Our world is completely erratic.

This denial actually protects us. It slows down the truth of what has happened and the fog slowly begins to thin allowing bits of information to sink in. Your mind will only let in what you can handle at that time. Sadly, we slowly begin to accept the loss and everything we were in denial of before begins to come to light.

You are beginning the process of healing.


When we lose a loved one we want to protest the loss. We are angry, aggravated, hurt, and sometimes shocked. Why did this happen to my boy? What caused this? Who caused this?

anger.jpgWe are resentful our baby is gone! We want to find the target. You may blame yourself, your family, friends, doctors, your loved one for leaving you, and even God. At this stage of the grieving process, we feel alone, deserted, and helpless.

Anger surfaces when we feel out of control and is a response to gain our control back. It is easy to lash out at those around us, even a complete stranger. We need to accept our angry feelings and understand that it is a normal response to life and why not be mad and blame the world for our devastating loss?

Anger is more acceptable than being sad and doesn’t hurt as much. This is a way to hide being so vulnerable.


Bargaining is an effort to try to control a situation. We desperately try to negotiate things to bring our loved one back and cease this agony we are now living. Guilt succumbs us and the “if only I did this” statements reoccur in our minds.

When we bargain, we get a brief sense of control. “Please God, I will never do this again if you bring my loved one back. I can wake up and this can all be a nightmare.” We desperately want our life back to the way it was and our loved one back.


DepressionIn the fourth stage of the grieving process, we realize the inevitable truth, that our loved one is never coming back. We have given up the fight and reality is staring deep in our eyes.

Isolation and loneliness are deepened and grief enters our souls in an unimaginable level. We want to be left alone and become very withdrawn. We cancel plans and quit answering the door.

Intense alone time is the only comfort our heart can handle at this time.

It is very important to understand that this is one of the necessary stages of the grieving process and not a mental illness. Losing a loved one is very depressing and depression is the appropriate response. It is part of the process we must tackle.


The final stage of the grieving process is acceptance. This should not ever be misinterpreted as being “OK” or “all right” with what has happened. We will never be “OK” with losing our child. Unfortunately, we are forced to accept it and must learn to live with it.

We readjust our lives, explore new roles, and get rid of others. Slowly, we begin to have more good days than bad ones. Of course, we can never replace our loss but we can grow, evolve, and change. We can live again!


An interesting way to view the 5 stages in the grieving process is by comparing it to a frigid rainy day. You are driving at night and your car suddenly breaks down. You are alone. Your immediate response is denial, “No way, this can’t be happening!”

Then anger kicks in as you bang on the steering wheel in a panic. Next, you notice yourself bargaining, “Please God, make the engine start.”

As you begin to feel hopeless, upset, and depressed about the situation you are in, you finally slide into acceptance and do something to fix the situation, like call a friend.

This is no analogy to losing a child by all means. Broken hearts are not broken cars and cannot be fixed. The loss is quite permanent for sure and all roads lead to the inevitable, loss, heartbreak, and emptiness.

Grief can also be a teacher and will bring back laughter and forgotten memories. This process has a life of its own and is complex. It forces you to create a new life. I, personally, can’t even say what stage I am in at this moment. I have experienced all of them except the bargaining stage.

Sharing my experiences along the way is a huge healing stone for me. I feel compelled to let others know they are normal in their emotions and experiences and they “are not going crazy” nor are the mentally unstable.

We are all in this together. God Bless Us All!

I encourage open comments and discussion below. I check the site regularly and welcome your thoughts.

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4 thoughts on “5 Stages of the Grieving Process

  1. Had our grandchild taken by unsavory individuals. Its complicated. thank you for the information. Although he is still alive, he is back where no child should be. I had previously been aware from my mom passing, I think Im at the last part.

    1. Goodness I hate to hear that.. I can’t even imagine going through that. The worries and concern. I am glad he is still here but it sounds scary of his current situation. God willing he is safe wherever he may be and a healthier future is coming soon.. I still have no idea what stage I am in.. It varies daily. I just miss him terribly. His bday is this Monday, he would be 25… Take care and my thoughts are with you and your grandchild finding peace.

  2. According to the above I’m definitely in the major depression stage where I’d rather be alone don’t even feel like talking on the phone find it hard to find things to talk about and just generally can’t even pay attention to what’on TV… It’s very hard to get enthusiastic about anything… I’m going to try to read some of those books to see if they help thanks for the tip

    1. Hi Linda, yes it sounds like you could be in the depression stage. Remember that it is a process we must get through to get to the end and it’s possible to go back and forth between the stages. Grieving is a must and can’t be ignored. It will find you at some point. The books have helped me tremendously and have opened my eyes to things I never knew. I hope they give you some piece as they have given me. Best wishes!

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