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The 5 Stages of Dealing with Grief: What to Expect

By April Smith, South Wind Hospice Marketing Director
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Hospice provides bereavement care to the patient’s family and friends for at least one year after the patient’s death. Chaplains, social workers and a bereavement counselor provide ongoing support for families dealing with grief. These professionals are experienced in helping others cope with the dying process. Psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified the five stages of grief that can be expected when a person is dying or knows someone who is dying.

1. Anger

People tend to get angry when they lack control of a situation. They may be angry and upset at their loved one, or the doctor, or even God. Because they are powerless and unable to change things, they blame others for their painful feelings.

2. Denial

Coping with the idea of dying or losing someone is a hard concept to grasp. People don’t want to believe it’s true and begin denying that anything is wrong. They convince themselves that they heard wrong, that the doctor is wrong or that it’s just not possible.

3. Bargaining

This is based on the theory that good things happen to good people. When someone is dealing with death, they sometimes experience guilt and dwell over the “if-onlys.” For example, if only I had been a better person, this never would have happened. They pray for a miracle or promise to be a better person if they (or their loved one) can overcome the illness.

4. Depression

Once people come to terms with the fact that they are dying and there is nothing they can do to change it, they become depressed. This stage involves despair, constant crying, fatigue, and feelings of sadness. They realize death is inevitable and begin focusing on feelings of great loss.

5. Acceptance

This is the final stage of mourning the loss of life. Basically, it’s accepting the fact that death will or has occurred. The person experiences closure and can now move on with their life.

These stages are typical reactions to grief but everyone deals with loss in their own way. If you are dealing with death, take advantage of the hospice services that will help you grieve on your own terms, at your own pace.

Spreading the Word—

April Smith