7 Stages Of Grief – Going Through the Process and Back to Life

When you lose someone you love, it’s hard to imagine life without them. Every loss comes with pain and adjustments we need to make. You are not alone, and knowing the 7 stages of grief might help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Beautiful sunrise

It is important to interpret the stages loosely and expect much individual variation. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next. In reality, there is much looping back, or stages can hit at the same time, or occur out of order. So why bother with stage models at all? Because they are a good general guide of what to expect.

For example, generally, a long period of “depression” (not clinical depression), isolation, and loneliness happen late in the grief process, months after the tragedy strikes. It actually is normal and expected for you to be very depressed and sad eight months later.

Outsiders do not understand this and feel that it should be time for you to “get over it” and rejoin the land of the living. Just knowing that your desire to be alone with your sad reflections at this time is normal will help you deal with outside pressures. You are acting normally. They just don’t “get it”.

What Does Grief Feel Like?

Grief actually is different for each and every person. The seven stages of grief that we’ll dive into below is the perfect showcase of how people go through the grieving process. Coping with loss and dealing with all the emotions of grief is a trying time for anyone to deal with.

For many, there is actually quite an extensive mourning process that comes with the various stages for grief. This is why knowing grief symptoms can be a big indicator to someone about what stages of grief and loss their currently going through.

Grief can feel like extreme sadness, confusion, chaos, anger, resentment, and more. Those who have had to go through the grieving process could easily tell you what their grief felt like and how it was hard for them.

What Are The 7 Stages of Grief?

Here is the grief model we call the 7 Stages of Grief:

1. Shock & Denial

You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. The shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

This type of grief is probably one of the biggest and most important stages that people go through once they start processing through the stages of grief after suicide.

Examples of emotions during this stage of grief:

  • Mourning
  • Sadness
  • Confusion
  • Discomfort

2. Pain & Guilt

As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

Out of all the stages of grief after an affair, this is the one that might be most prevalent because realization sets in that their choice was something that could have been prevented and stopped and that this suffering and pain were preventable.

Examples of emotions during this stage of grief:

  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Desperation
  • Betrayed

3. Anger & Bargaining

Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is not a time for the release of bottled-up emotion. You may rail against fate, questioning “Why me?” You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair: “I will never drink again if you just bring him back”!

Depending on if you’re ready for grief counseling, this is a step that it might be a good choice to look into.

Examples of emotions during this stage of grief:

  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Bargaining
  • Stubbornness

4. “Depression”, Reflection, Loneliness

Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

Examples of emotions during this stage of grief:

  • Depression
  • Heavy
  • Crushed
  • Frustrated

5. The Upward Turn

As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.

This is the part of the grieving process that you’ll start to see the light a bit at the end of the tunnel. It’s a middle ground of all the grief symptoms that you’ll go through but it’s one that you can build upon.

Examples of emotions during this stage of grief:

  • Strengthened
  • Motivated
  • Awakened

6. Reconstruction & Working Through

As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

Examples of emotions during this stage of grief:

  • Inspired
  • Determined
  • Refreshed

7. Acceptance & Hope

During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness.

Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward. You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future.

Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain. Sadness, yes! But the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living. You have made it through the 7 stages of grief.

Examples of emotions during this stage of grief:

  • Hopeful
  • Comforted
  • Relaxed
  • Secure

Stages of Grief After Death

Dealing with grief after death is one of the hardest emotions to try to understand and figure out. From the 7 stages of grief listed above, you’ll notice that depending on the death, you might actually start out at a varied stage of grief. (They don’t have to go in order).

Coping with grief after the death of a spouse is something that all married couples will need to prepare for and be ready to process. For many, the grief after losing their spouse will be almost too much to bear.

But if they’re ready to deal with grief after the loss of their spouse, the stages of grief and loss above can help.

Helpful Resources For Grieving

  • Back to life ebookAre you devastated by the loss of a loved one?
  • Bewildered by all the strong emotions and crazy symptoms?
  • Wondering how you are ever going to survive?
  • Tired of being stuck in a complicated grief?

Back To Life! Our Personal Grief Guidebook might be just the help you are looking for. Read more about this most useful and practical recovery guide here: Back To Life!

In addition to the written guidebook, we also offer a unique audio program to help with grief coping and relaxation. If you think an audio approach might be helpful, consider this program:

Grief relief program cover

Books about stages of grief and moving through grief

Grief Day By Day: Simple Practices and Daily Guidance for Living with Loss

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping, and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One

The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith

The 7 stages of grief

25 thoughts on “7 Stages Of Grief – Going Through the Process and Back to Life”

  1. I lost my husband to cancer in January 2019. Is it to soon to feel like I am in the 7th stage? I still reflect daily on how awesome a man he was to me and our daughter. And I still miss him but I know he is in a good place, pain free and happy. I want to be in acceptance. I am no longer in the anger and denial stages, but he will always be in my heart and soul. So what stage am i in, because I really don’t know? Thank you for your time.

    • Melissa, I’m so sorry for your loss. Grief is different for different people. If YOU feel you are in the acceptance phase, then that’s OK. Go with what your heart feels.

    • I lost my dad on december 2018 and instantly I felt the 7th stage the moment he passed. I knew where he went and I felt him as a guide. From there the stages were coming to me in random order. I did what he taught me and that was to move continue moving forward. I still feel shock and denial when I’m in a sleepy state where flashes of him come to me and I cant believe hes gone. I’ve been having phases where I begin to project guilt and that causes depression and shock and I start having dreams that reflect that. When I’m in a peaceful state at the 7th stage I get peaceful visits of him in my dreams. I’m praying for you right now and I hope you feel his eternal love by your side healing you.

    • @Mellisa Coldren, we lost a lot of family members to cancer miscarriages we lost my dad my aunt and two cousins there’s nothing that will ever take that pain away but we must make our self stronger and be there for tha ones that we love and are still here.
      You have to believe that when they come to you in ur sleep it’s not them coming to us but our souls being called up by them be ready to cry and to let them know how much we miss them listen to them very important that is.
      For you will see them agine amen 🙏

    • @Mellisa Coldren, You say he is in a good place, then I would say to you, he is in a good place. And that is the love of God. God be with you.

  2. I lost my husband in December 2019 we just married May 2019 and been together since 2010. he passed suddenly and unexpectedly… I see a grief counselor who tells me that the stages of grief do not go in exact order for everyone you can feel like number 7 one month and jump back to number 3 the next and so on… I hope this helps and I’m sorry for your loss

    • Tiffany, I’m so sorry for your loss! Yes, it’s true that the stages of grief don’t go in order for many people. And everyone grieves differently. Allow yourself to feel and grieves. You’ll know when you are ready to move on.

  3. I lost my wife 3.5 weeks ago. It was sudden, as her symptoms were very gradual at first (I didn’t understand what was happening, over those 2 or 3 weeks), then she went into a rapid decline. I called 911 when she collapsed on the floor one morning, they came quickly, got her up on a gurney, and took her to the hospital, then to another, better-equipped hospital. She was diagnosed with a massive, malignant brain tumor, and nothing could be done to save her. She was taken to a wonderful hospice, where she died only a week later, never having opened her eyes, spoken, or recovered consciousness again. I sat with her in hospice and quietly told her how much I loved her (she moved her head just slightly toward me, one time), but she was not verbal or acting aware, yet I kept speaking gentle, loving words to her to the end. She was an educator for 40 years, a brilliant and respected woman, loved by many of her students and fellow educators. She was my hero, and the love and light of my life. I’m not certain exactly where I am in the stages, but whichever one it may be each day, we had no children in our 30 years together, but we have a darling “fur-baby” feline friend. I am moving forward in my life slowly and gently, being sure to honor her life and legacy every day, while also following what I am sure she would wish for me: to be strong and hopeful and take care of myself as best I can, and to make the most of the life that I have left. I am 65.

    • I”m so sorry for your loss Kevin! It sounds like she was a wonderful wife and partner. You are doing the right things: taking care of yourself and moving forward with your life, just like she would have wanted you to. I’m praying for you.

  4. Like you Kevin, we lost our Mum 6 weeks ago to a sudden diagnosis of brain tumours. It was 9 weeks between diagnosis and cremation and although I’m passed the first stage of shock, I feel I’ve got a foot each in 2 & 3. Due to Covid we cared for her at home and I now feel deeply traumatised by the things that she and we experienced as her health rapidly declined, things we would not have seen had she been in hospice care.

    • So sorry for your loss, Leena! I pray you can find peace knowing that you were there for her, all the way through the end.

  5. My daughter has a friend who lost her mother from a massive heart attack at the beginning of the covid outbreak. They could not have a service, only she and her father. This is the problem, he has begun to treat my daughter in a different way, buying her things, he even wrote her a letter professing his love for her. I told my daughter this is textbook after a loss of that magnitude. I looked up the seven stages of grief and because it doesn’t specifically quote her problem she thinks I am off base. She has loved these people for years and is very uncomfortable with this new glitch she finds herself in. Do you have anything for her??

  6. That type of transference is not one of the grief stages – not the profession of love or the buying gifts. My concern there is how old is your daughter and how was he acting towards her before the wife died. She should trust her instincts and not have them dismissed as a grief reaction on his part. Yes, grief may be a part of his actions but I am with your daughter on this one myself. I am a counselor and I work with sex offenders and that sends off some bad vibes – which I hope are incorrect. He may be looking for someone to fill the hole of loss, yes but he does not need to turn that onto his daughter’s friend. He has been in the role of a father figure to her – not a potential dating partner. The buying her gifts is more of a grooming that sex offenders use to get their potential victim comfortable with them. I would be interested in how he treated your daughter before the death and how comfortable she felt with his attention. He has a daughter to focus on and love through their loss, I do not think that professing love to her best friend with her mother having just died would be healthy for any of them. Support your daughter in setting boundaries and telling him No when he is off base. Encourage her to find ways to support her friend and limit contact with the father – particularly any that would put her alone with him. If you and your husband have a relationship with your daughter’s friend’s father – then you be supportive with him as adults to adults. It is never a good move to put our children in the role of being the adult to another adult and particularly not in the female to male roles. It’s too easy for grief to be used as an excuse for other behaviors and the young person’s kindness be used as a weakness with your daughter being hurt. I do not know the ages of the individuals, if your daughter is a minor I would have a hard time not going to the police with the letter, as that is inappropriate to have written to a minor. If she is older it is still inappropriate but the legal aspect is lessened. If she is a minor you or her father need to let him know you are sorry for his loss but it is not allowable to be acting as he is toward your daughter. Give him back the gifts and let him know it is unacceptable to be buying her items for non birthday/Christmas times. Encourage him to focus on his healing and seek some therapy as his decision making could cause legal issues for him were it to continue. If your daughter is an adult she can tell him herself and give him back the gifts and set her own limits with him.

  7. I lost my husband shortly after our 34th anniversary. I felt like 34 years wasn’t enough when couples we know were celebrating 50 years and still going strong. Then I felt ashamed because we still had more than many. I have felt guilt and anger too, I’ll see a picture of him looking with love holding one of our grandchildren. I am around them most of the time and that helps, it’s when I’m alone at night that the pain and sadness comes in.

  8. Nice, very informative, Thanks for sharing with us how to get child custody, lost love back with black magic more info templeofanswer@hotmail . co . uk

  9. My life partner of 17 years just passed away 2 months ago. Authorities believe it was a suicide but no note was found. Now her family is trying to take our home, by calling it their Family Home and that they should be entitled to my partners half! How dare they, put me through this. I can’t even take the time to grieve because I spend my time trying to find documents for my attorney that o had to hire. Due to the stress my doctor took me off work, before I said or do something to get myself fired for being unprofessional.
    It’s been rough! I feel alone. Sometimes I feel numb on my left side, and it’s hard to breathe, so then I think I’m having a heart attack.
    It’s hard to do even the most simplistic task such as daily hygiene. I don’t feel like doing anything.
    Am I supposed to just cow girl up and move on? Sometimes I think it’s easier just to join my partner. What do I do with these thoughts?
    I don’t like going to sleep because I now have vivid nightmares! They are usually bloody and very gruesome.
    Who can help me?

  10. I lost my dad to Covid 19 in the nursing home in Italy. It took 11 hours from healthy, to coma to death to covid bag. I am telling it how it is. He was 84. I am so angry every day and I have not reached out to anybody because I don’t care. I am tired of them saying it will be ok. No it is not ok. Why did this virus have to kill my father out of 2 million dead out of 9 billion living on this earth. I see a psychiatrist and a psychologist and they do nothing for me. I am angry at people that won’t get the vaccine because they are ignorant of what it does and they don’t talk to professionals or even study about it. How can people be so selfish. It is not right. People with underlying conditions and anything that could harm them I understand but just by SOCIAL MEDIA IS BEING SELFISH AND NOT CARINAG ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE DYING. How would they like to see their father or loved one in a body bag. All you need to remember is those terrible videos of people in the bags being thrown into trucks like meat. This is very serious. In 1918 over 50 million were dead during the pandemic and just believe how devestating that would be. I hope people smarten up and get the vaccine and end this. Stop listening to your friends who tell you about news they heard.!!! If you lost a loved one in Covid 19 reach out and we must talk about this in a civilized manner.

  11. I lost my husband on Nov 20, 2020. We were together 52 years almost 53. I miss him so much. I am trying to go on but it is so hard. We had a special love. We fought and made up alot but we never stop loving each other. He died in my arms at home from lung cancer. He told me that day he was dying. Oh I miss him. I just want to hold him once more. I guess i am in the first stages of grief. I will never stop loving him.

  12. I lost my Dad in 1989 and I am still some what angry. He got the flu and could not keep his heart medicine down. After 3 days of that he called my now ex and he passed hospital after hospital to get to the hospital he wanted to go to. After 4 hours of waiting in the waiting room my Dad collapsed on the floor and died. A heart attack. He had been at that hospital when it first opened and he had a heart attack 10 years before. I am not as angry as I was in the beginning but still angry. I skipped all of the other grief steps and went straight to angry. My Dad and I were very close. He came to my house every day for dinner (lunch for us). I even got him to bring shorts to go swimming in our pool. My two girls loved him! And they had fun in the pool. Thankfully, I took pictures of them. So, why do I still get angry? Please help and reply. Thank you.


Leave a Comment