The 5 Stages of Dealing with Grief: What to Expect

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

10 months, said...

My Susan was diagnosed with melanoma over a year ago. She gave a good fight. Tonight she is in the last stages of her life. I feel so lost, so guilty. It's not fair. We were suppose to live together forever. It's so unreal. Life is strange to me right now. Everything is alien to me. I feel lost and alone. I thought she would win the battle. Now she is between worlds and there is no hope of survival. I just want to die with her.

over 1 year, said...

my beloved husband of16 and a half years passed away 2 days ago...he had just turned 56. He had a second spinal fusion about 3 weeks ago and never recovered. They diagnosed him with encephalopathy due to hep c and schirrosis...he always downplayed the seriousness of his hep c and I feel cheated because I didn't even know he had schirrossis. I am in shock..feel lost ,alone. I am only 50 and have never been on my own and I think his family blames me for his death...can anyone help me with this. He was also bipolar.

almost 2 years, said...

mjeanstein, I understand what you mean. My 66-year old dad was in the hospital following a fall during a manic episode. While there, he was diagnosed with moderate dementia. They told my mom he would need to be released from the hospital directly into long-term care. We were completely blindsided... We found a great memory-care facility for him, but are still reeling. Numbness. It's like your mind locks the pain and fear away to be dealt with later, when you can (hopefully) deal with it. Thank God for the grace he has given us to be "anesthetized" against the worst right now! I know that soon enough the emotions will catch up with me...guilt, fear, grief. God bless you and your husband as you begin your difficult journey.

about 2 years, said...

About a month ago my 76 year old husband went to hospital to be diagnosed for not being able to walk. Was diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis. When he was in hospital he developed delirium for 2 days. Since that time he has developed dementia. He had one surgery on his neck and a 2nd is scheduled in a week for his lumbar region. He is currently in a skilled nursing facility. I am taking it one day at a time, one step at a time. I do not feel especially stressed or emotional. Is that normal??

almost 4 years, said...

The stages. I work with a chronically ill population. I will be able to identify the stages.

almost 5 years, said...

I have never got over my son passing away and my husband 2 years later my other son and I can't get passed the our huge loss our hearts are broken and we can't be fixed I try to think of only the good time but my mind so often just see them lying there passed away