Understanding the Five Stages of Grief

Understanding the Five Stages of Grief

Grief can overwhelm the mind and our physical senses, leading to unexpected emotions, loss of sleep or appetite and the inability to think straight. You may even feel anger, guilt, immense pain, sadness or everything all at once. It’s important to remember, while difficult, these reactions are normal and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief may be.

What Is Grief?

Grief is the natural response we have to a loss in life. This loss can refer to the death of a loved one, but it can also refer to the loss of physical or cognitive abilities or the loss of something that was routine in your life such as a job. In addition to the emotional expression of grief, grief can be expressed in physical, behavioural, social, and cognitive ways.

The Five Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, are typically discussed as if they are to happen in sequence. Though spoken of in simplistic terms, grief is far from simple and very rarely do these stages happen in any particular order.

Generally speaking, most people will feel a combination of these stages at any given time, but as a rough guide or pathway, the work of Swiss-American psychiatrist, Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross does still hold great relevance when handling or coping with loss. Let’s look at the five stages of grief:


This is often the first stage of grief, usually consisting of a numbing feeling, or an inability to accept the reality of your loss.


Anger is a common emotion to feel after the loss of a loved one. Anger is typically provoked by a feeling of unfairness, of having someone taken away before their time, or before you could tell them what you really wanted to say. You may be angry at the world, angry at yourself or even angry at the person you’ve lost.


Bargaining acts as a defence against emotions, helping you to postpone the overwhelming toll of grief. It is common for those with religious beliefs, as bargaining involves pleading with God to change what has happened. In non-religious terms, bargaining usually means pleading with yourself, hypotheticals such as, “If I had one more day with this person, I would never drink again”, are extremely common in bargaining.


Overwhelming sadness, loss of meaning and purpose is often what we think about when we imagine the impact of grief and it can be the most painful, isolating stage of all. This stage can be intense, usually coming in waves, that can continue for several months or years.


There may never be a time where you are truly over your loss, and that’s okay, but there will come a time when you learn to accept it. The final stage of grief is not about moving on, but more about starting again. It’s at this stage, you can learn to live again.

At Callum Robertson Funeral Directors, we understand the sense of loss when someone close to you passes away. In the midst of your emotional pain, it can be hard to know which way to turn, but that’s where we come in. For quality funeral services across Kirkcaldy, Leslie and Dunfermline, get in touch with our caring and experienced team at Callum Robertson Funeral Directors today.

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