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What are the five stages of grief?

Losing a loved one to a tragic accident can feel like your world is ending. While all people navigate their losses differently, grief often occurs in five separate stages. Psych Central offers insight into these five stages, which can help you work through your own personal grieving process.

A sudden loss can be startling, which is why many people’s first reaction is denial. While it may seem negative, denial is actually a way of protecting oneself from the shock of what occurred and the accompanying negative emotions. Once reality sets in, anger often follows denial as the next step in the grieving process. Anger can be directed at the person lost, medical staff for not being able to save their life, or even yourself for not being able to do more. Anger can be intense after a loss, and if you believe you are a threat to yourself or others seek out professional assistance right away.

Next comes bargaining. This stage is characterized by guilt and hopelessness. The bereaved will run through different scenarios imaging what may have occurred if different actions had been taken. A person may even blame themselves for not doing enough. Bargaining quickly gives way to depression. There are often two aspects of depression as it related to grief. One is related to practical concerns, such as neglecting family or funeral planning. The other entails coming to terms with the loss of a loved one and fully comprehending that he or she is gone forever.

Unfortunately, not everyone will reach the stage of acceptance. This is especially true when it comes to tragic occurrences, particularly those that seem senseless. Even when acceptance is reached, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person grieving will suddenly be happy and able to move on from what occurred. Acceptance is more about coming to terms with a loss.

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