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The seven stages of grief may vary depending on the source, but they are generally considered to be, in order, shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and finally acceptance. It is believed that many people going through grief, experience these stages in a similar order, though this is certainly not a requirement, nor is it always the case. These stages also correspond to the somewhat more commonly discussed five stages of grief as determined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
The first two stages of the seven stages of grief are often taken together, shock and denial. These occur immediately after receiving the news, which may not always be the death of a loved one. Many people experience severe grief after the loss of a job, for example, or the end of relationship. This period typically does not last very long before the bargaining stage can occur. Many people will discover that they find themselves thinking of what could be done to go back in time and prevent the tragedy from occurring, or praying in request to bring the person back. This is a completely normal reaction, and is considered to be the third of the seven stages of grief.
Often, guilt accompanies bargaining as one of the seven stages of grief. People will feel guilty that they did not do something to prevent it, even if there was nothing that they could have done. This can lead to anger, either at oneself for the feelings of guilt, at the event that led to the tragedy, or sometimes even anger at the person who is gone. Depression, the next of the stages, often appears throughout the entire grief process; many people experience it immediately, while others will find that it comes and goes during the grieving process.
Acceptance is the last of the seven stages of grief, in which one will finally begin to accept the truth of the matter and reach some level of understanding. This does not mean forgetting about the person who is gone, or never again feeling sadness, pain, or anger. The process of grieving can be a lifelong event, and many people move backward and forwards through the stages as they experience it; it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people find that discussing things with friends, family, or even a therapist can help them to deal with their most painful emotions.