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What are 7 Stages of Grief & How Long Does Each Stage Take

By Amarjeet Kaur

What Does Grief Feel Like?

Sadly, grief`s agonising pain will come to each and every one of us at some time in our lives. Saying farewell to a pet or losing a loved one may be excruciatingly difficult, altering our reality and sending us into a tailspin. And because grieving a loss is such a personal experience, it may be quite challenging to forecast how we would feel. It`s not really organised or logical. It doesn`t adhere to any timetables or plans. You can feel sad, angry, alone, or empty. All of these occurrences are normal and correct.

What are the 7 stages of grief?

Grief is highly personal. Although everyone grieves in their own way, there are certain similarities among the phases and sequence of emotions that are felt throughout mourning.

You may be aware of the many phases of grieving, but you may not be familiar with how they operate or which stage you are currently going through.

Every person expresses grief differently. Knowing this, however, is very different from really experiencing it.

Feeling isolated in your mourning or concerned that your grieving isn`t going "naturally" is entirely acceptable.

Based on Elizabeth Kübler-Ross`s `Five Stages of Grief `, a seven-stage model was proposed to understand and explain the highly complicated loss experience.

It`s vital to remember that everyone`s path through grief is different. Although they are known as "grief phases," it`s vital to remember that they aren`t stringent. Sometimes, the stages overlap or are skipped entirely. Nevertheless, understanding these 7 components will help you recognise some of the emotions you could feel, regardless of how and when you experience them.

The 7 stages of grief:

1) Shock & Disbelief

Your initial response may be shock or utter disbelief when you first learn about the loss of a loved one. You can`t even comprehend what just happened, so you`re not exactly in denial. This defence system was created to shield against pain.

This stage explains why we can make funeral plans or other arrangements immediately after a death since you`re in a suspended condition until you can grieve.

2) Denial

Although denial and disbelief are similar, denial is a different coping strategy that also aids in overcoming loss and pain. Either denying your loved one has passed away or ignoring the memories are acceptable responses. It is unusual for someone to remain in a pathological and persistent state of denial and refuse to acknowledge any adverse events.

There are several ways that this phase manifests. While some will deny their loved one has passed away, other people will deny they are mourning or that the loss has harmed them.

3) Guilt

A hit to the stomach might simulate guilt. It`s very reasonable to consider what you may have done differently to stop the loss. When a loved one passes away, the majority of us will likely feel some guilt (thoughts like "I could have done more" or "I should have called the doctor with my worries" are frequent), but only around 7% of individuals will go through "Complicated grief."

Complicated grief is frequently characterised by guilt and makes the sufferer obsess about the specifics of the loss and what they may have done differently. They also have difficulty accepting that death is inevitable, or they surround themselves with mementoes and images that give them hope that the departed is still with them.

4) Anger and Bargaining

This phase often follows formalities and funerals. Now that your consoling relatives and friends have gone, you`re attempting to carry on with your normal activities. This is frequently when rage and bargaining are expressed. The doctors, another party, and maybe even the deceased themselves may make you upset. While this rage frequently makes people feel even worse about themselves, they realise that it is entirely natural and offers a crucial outlet for their emotions.

Sometimes, even when they know it is pointless, individuals start to mentally "negotiate." "I would do X," for instance, to have them back.

5) Depression, Loneliness and Reflection

After fully acknowledging the loss, it is normal to feel depressed or extremely sad. You could also experience loneliness and separation from other family members. Seeking the advice and support of a grief counsellor who can assist you through the suffering at this difficult time may be extremely helpful.

These sessions can serve as a time for you to reflect on your connection with your loved one, what it really meant to you, and how you can move on in the future.

6) Reconstruction and working through

You could still be climbing the ladder at this point, but you`ve built a new life without your lost loved one and are adjusting to your "new normal." Even though the pain may feel fresh and unbearable, you are aware that nothing can be done to change it. Even if you`re not quite ready to accept the death, you understand that life must carry on.

7) Acceptance

Acceptance is the model`s last phase. You accept that your loved one is gone and that you must carry on with your life after completing the most challenging and painful task of mourning.

When you think about your loved one, you could start to smile again rather than sob or wince. You may start new hobbies, join new groups, go on vacations or preserve their priceless keepsakes.

What is the hardest stage of grief to go through?

Everyone has a different method of dealing with loss. However, there are certain overarching principles about the phases of grieving that may be useful to remember when coping with loss—especially for people going through a bereavement.

According to a widely accepted belief, the acceptance stage is thought to be the most difficult. Because acceptance usually comes later in the mourning process, it is regarded as the most challenging stage of sorrow because it calls for complete acceptance that a loved one has passed away.

Understanding that life without your loved one will never be the same while allowing you to develop, go forward, and appreciate your life is the first step in accepting the loss.

How long does each stage of grief last?

Each of these stages might last for any amount of time. One individual may go through the stages quickly—in a couple of weeks, for example—while another person may take months or even years to do so. It`s very natural for you to go through these stages when you do. The boundaries between the stages of the grief process are sometimes hazy. Before fully entering a new stage, we could transition from one stage to another and back again.

Why is it important to understand the stages of grief?

These stages of grief are a part of a framework for how we learn to live with the one we lost. They serve as tools to help us categorise and name potential emotions. However, they do not represent a point in time where grief ceases. Not everybody passes through them all or in the designated order. Nevertheless, we can better deal with life`s ups and downs by understanding these stages and the terrain of grief.

Getting help with grief

Some people require additional assistance to get over the effects of loss and grief. However, asking for help is not a sign of weakness or a loss of control.

If you have any of the following problems for longer than five weeks, you should see a mental health professional:

  • You experience numbness or emptiness and cannot manage your emotions.
  • There aren`t many people you can chat with among your friends or family.
  • You are using liquor, drugs, sex, or gambling as self-medication.

Many organisations offer support or information to those going through the grieving process. No matter where you are in the grieving process, you may receive support from organisations like:

It`s crucial to keep in mind that every person experiences loss in a unique way. While you could go through all five stages of grieving, you can also find it challenging to categorise your emotions into any stage. When coping with loss, be patient with yourself and your emotions.

Give yourself time to go through your feelings, and then talk to loved ones or a healthcare professional about your experiences when you`re ready. Remember that you don`t have to do anything special if you are helping someone who has lost a close one, such as a spouse or sibling. Just give them space to speak when they`re ready.


Amarjeet Kaur


Amarjeet Kaur is a counselling psychologist and a subject matter expert for mental health. She holds a master's degree in Counselling Psychology. Her interest lies in individual and relationship counselling. She is quite passionate about spreading mental health awareness especially in the lower socio-economic parts of society.

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