A Guide To The Five Stages Of Grief & How To Cope

What is grief? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, grief is an intense and deep sense of distress, usually caused by bereavement. When facing the reality of losing a loved one, the emotional response and suffering that follows is only natural and universal to everyone.

Death is inevitable and often unforgiving. As much as we know these facts, we might not be able to help ourselves or prepare for the emotions we might experience. The duration and the intensity of such grief varies for each and every person. It might even take a toll on one’s mental health and daily routines. However, it is important to realize that one’s feelings of grief are valid and appropriate. By accepting this, only then can one start to embark on the healing process and begin to let go of their grief.

Having some knowledge of what you are feeling and what you are going through will help you find some grounding to keep up and move forward. Psychologists and doctors have generally approached grief by breaking it down into its five classic stages:

Denial: The first stage of grief is almost always denial. This is the natural and instinctive defensive mechanism that is inherent in all of us. You might have thoughts such as “This cannot be happening. This cannot be real.” Such thoughts are part of the process of shock and numbness, before the overwhelming emotions flood in.

Anger: With the pain pouring in comes anger. In this mental state, one can feel helpless. One can feel frustrated and want to project their feelings on hurt outwards. It is valid and normal to feel angry, especially at a loved one for leaving you.

Bargaining: This stage of grief involves many questions and thoughts of “What if…?” The mind tries to go back and reflect on what could have prevented this loss. It is an irrational state of being as we all know that the truth of death is irreversible and inevitable.

Depression: Once the loss and bereavement has been completely comprehended, the sorrow sets in. At this stage of grief, the person is exceptionally vulnerable in an emotional sense. The process is filled with crying and sleepless nights, coupled with regret, loneliness and the sense of wanting to give up on life.

Acceptance: Acceptance is the last stage, when one has fully come to terms with their loss. Acknowledging that circumstances cannot change is the stepping stone forward. The individual has processed their grief and can start moving on in life.

These five stages are not fixed. They are simply a framework to help people understand their emotional experiences. Everyone processes grief through their own ways and terms. It is also very possible that one might be reminded and triggered of their past grief.

At Embrace Funeral Services, we provide bereavement support on top of funeral services in Singapore for families and loved ones in grief. With our experience, we are dedicated to assist clients in mourning and sending off their loved one.

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