The Five Stages Of Grief

Loss and grief affect all of us. We can experience loss through the death of a family member; a relationship breakup; or the loss of a home – as we have seen so much of in the recent fires across Australia. Join Celebrant and regular blogger, Melane Lawson as she takes us through the five stages of grief.

Understanding Grief

Everyone responds to loss by grieving in their own way. For most of us, this is a process that we can work through over time. We never ‘get over' our losses and will always carry reminders in our day to day lives. For some of us, grief can dominate our thoughts and emotions and can lead to depression or other long-term mental health issues.

The information in this blog is general in nature; aimed at helping to understand what we and those around us may be experiencing at times of loss and bereavement. If you are affected by grief and need help, there are many services and supports you can contact.

Stages Of Grief

In the late 1960's psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a model of grieving based on her work with people who were terminally ill. This model outlines five stages of grief. It has been adapted and updated over the years and applied more generally to people facing various types of losses. While there are criticisms of the model, the basic concepts are a good starting point to understanding what many people experience when faced with a loss.

Denial - This stage can be characterised by disbelief, avoidance or unwillingness to discuss the loss.

Anger – in this stage people may express anger, outrage, frustration. People might say things like: “It's not fair!” or “Why me?” or look for someone to blame.

Bargaining – In Kubler-Ross' model, people who were terminally ill would try to ‘bargain' their way out of dying. For example, asking for additional treatment, or delaying surgery until a significant birthday has happened. Other forms of ‘bargaining' might be expressing an irrational hope.

Depression – once a person has tried everything to deal with the loss, the next phase is sadness and depression. People may ‘lose hope' in this phase.

Acceptance – at this stage a grieving person can acknowledge their loss and incorporate their experience into the rest of their lives. It is not the same as ‘getting over it', but it means that people can talk about their experience and manage their emotions in a way which is not overwhelming.

Key points about the model are:

The Importance Of Ceremony

Ceremonies help individuals, families and communities work through loss and grief.