What Are the Stages of Bereavement?

After a loss, almost everyone suffering from grief will go through a series stages of grief, or bereavement. In the event that a death is expected, some people will go through these stages before the actual death of a loved one. It is commonly understood that there are five stages of grief — shock, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. During these stages a person will usually experience a wide range of emotions.

Shock and denial is one of the first stages of bereavement. Individuals going through this stage are shocked about a particular loss, and may not be completely ready to accept or believe it. They may behave in ways they did not before the loss. For instance, they may expect a loved one to come walking through the door even days after his death.

The next stage of bereavement is often anger. This anger can be directed at anyone, or no one in particular. Some individuals may be angry at themselves, and may blame themselves for the loss, even if it was out of their control. During this stage, a person can be quite irritable, and might even snap at others for little things.


After denial and anger comes the bargaining stage of grief. In this stage, an individual may offer something in return for an end to the pain or the return of a loved one. A jilted spouse may offer to change drastically, for example, in return for the return of his marriage. Religious or spiritual individuals may even offer their own lives to God to bring back a loved one.

The fourth stage, depression, is often one of the hardest stages of bereavement for many people. It is in this stage that sadness and despair finally hit. An individual may cry for no apparent reason, seemed dazed or out of it, and have sleep difficulties. They may also find no pleasure or joy in activities that they used to enjoy. This is also one of the most dangerous stages of bereavement for some, since they may even contemplate suicide.

The final stage of bereavement is usually acceptance. It is during this stage that sufferers finally begin to accept the loss. They will probably still be a bit sad when they think about the loss, but it will now not interfere with their lives. Many people will start looking ahead instead of focusing on their loss.

Depending on the situation and the individual, the five stages of bereavement can take different amounts of time to complete. For some people, it may take only days, but for others it can take years. Sometimes, some of the different stages of bereavement may only take a few moments. Bereavement counseling may help some individuals cope with a loss.



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