The five stages of grief

March 21, 2013


Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced in 1969 what became known as the “five stages of grief.”

These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.

The five stages of grief:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger:Why is it happening to me? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will do….”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time.

But not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who mourns. In her last book in 2004, she said of the five stages of grief:

“They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss.

Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”