What are the 5 stages of grief?

black and white image of woman stood facing window and looking sad due to grief

The 5 stages of grief is a psychological model that shows how people typically cope with loss. It’s useful for understanding how our emotions work when we’re grieving. But it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a framework. This means it doesn’t reflect everyone’s experiences, so if you don’t feel this way, that’s okay too. We all experience grief slightly differently.

Lots of people use the 5 stages of grief to help come to terms with losing someone. It’s also used by doctors, psychiatrists and people who are dying.

Who created the 5 stages of grief?

The 5 stages of grief model was created by a psychiatrist called Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. She introduced the idea in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.

Kübler-Ross based the 5 stages of grief on interviews with terminally ill patients. It was originally meant to help dying people process and understand death. Today, it’s most often used by people who are grieving.

The model is useful for other things too. It has been used to describe how people react to losing their job, getting divorced and even going to jail.

What are the 5 stages of grief, in order?

The 5 stages of grief model is usually presented as a 5-step process, which looks like this:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

If you’re grieving, you might experience these emotions in order or you might not. You may even skip some stages or have a different experience entirely. The model isn’t meant as an instruction manual for grief – it’s best to think of it as a useful tool for understanding difficult emotions.

Here’s a rundown of the different stages in a little more detail.

Denial

At this stage, we try to tell ourselves that our painful situation isn’t real. If a person we love is dying, we could think ‘the diagnosis is wrong’ or ‘they’ll get better’. If the person has already died, we may simply say to ourselves, ‘this can’t be happening’.

This might sound like a bad way to deal with grief, but it’s perfectly normal. Denial helps us protect ourselves from overwhelming emotions and can reduce feelings of pain. It’s like our brains know we’re not ready to cope, so we enter a period of denial to give ourselves time to adjust.

Anger

Some people feel angry or resentful after losing someone. This anger could be directed towards medical staff (‘they didn’t do enough to help’) or family members (‘you should have noticed something was wrong’). Or it may be directed at nobody in particular (‘this shouldn’t be happening to me’).

People experience anger for all sorts of reasons. Some people get angry because they want answers, even if there aren’t any. Others use anger to shield themselves from other uncomfortable emotions, such as sadness or regret.

In any case, it’s important to remember that these feelings will go away. If a grieving person gets angry at you, although it can be hard, try not to take it personally.

Bargaining

This stage is about trying to regain control of a confusing and difficult situation. In the bargaining stage, we might ask ourselves ‘what if’ questions, such as:

Religious people may go one step further and try to bargain with God. This could mean praying for one more day with the person who has died, or even asking to trade places – ‘take me, not her’.

Exploring these thoughts helps us come to terms with our grief. We start by asking for the impossible, but gradually we begin to accept the truth: there’s nothing we can do to bring the person back.

Although it often has a positive outcome, bargaining can be a painful process. People who are bargaining may dwell on personal regrets or relive upsetting moments from the past.

Depression

It’s normal to feel depressed after a person has died. Often, it happens because the reality of the situation begins to sink in – ‘I’ve tried to deny it, but that hasn’t changed anything’.

However, depression isn’t the same as acceptance. Nor does it simply mean feeling sad. People who experience this stage of grief often feel completely hopeless and lost. They might withdraw from family members and friends who are trying to help. And they may tell themselves things like, ‘there’s no point going on’ or ‘there’s nothing worth getting out of bed for’.

For most people, depression will fade with time. However, if you feel like your depression isn’t going away, it’s important to get help from a trusted person or medical professional.

Acceptance

Acceptance is usually the final stage of the grieving process.

When people reach this phase, it means they’ve accepted the reality of their loss. It doesn’t mean that they’ve stopped feeling sad or that they’ve ‘gotten over it’. Rather, they’ve stopped resisting the truth of their situation and the painful feelings that come with it.

Acceptance can take a long time and works differently for different people. Some can move forward quite quickly. Others may spend months or years dealing with difficult emotions.

There will be good days and bad days. But as time goes on, the bad days will become less and less frequent. Eventually, you’ll learn to focus on happy memories and be able to focus on the future.

How to deal with the 5 stages of grief

Remember that the 5 stages of grief is just a guide. Everybody experiences grief differently and will have their own ways of coping.

The most important thing is to reach out for help if you need it. Perhaps you could phone a family member to offer mutual support or meet a friend for a cup of tea and a chat. Don’t worry about being a burden – most people will be happy to listen, especially if they’ve been through grief themselves.

Do you feel like there’s nobody to turn to? There are charities that offer free bereavement support to anyone who needs it. Start by taking a look at our list of bereavement charities in the UK.

×

Request Advice

Call a member of the Funeral Choice advice team on 01983 754387

or complete our enquiry form.

×

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
Close
×

What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
Close
×

Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

Close
×

Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

Close
×

Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
Close
×

Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

Close