Processing Grief in 5 Stages


    This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

    Grief is an inevitable part of the human experience. And yet, many of us will experience grief in vastly different ways from one another.

    Yet, while it is difficult to simply break down grief in a universal way, it often manifests as a series of stages. To be clear, grieving individuals may only experience some of these stages and not others. They may also experience them in a different order as well as return to stages multiple times.

    In any case, having a solid understanding of the grieving process and its five stages can help us better handle the intensity of grief.

    So, keep reading to find out more about these five stages of grief and how they can help you or someone you know navigate this difficult time.

    Grief as a Five-Step Process

    Grief may come from losing a child, it may come from losing a parent—it may even happen with people we don’t know very well.

    If grief is affecting you severely, you may benefit from counseling. Many people, however, find that they can overcome grief on their own with time.

    And if you would like to review more resources on grief, you could check out those available through BetterHelp:


    First up is denial. This is commonly considered as a first step of overcoming addiction as well. Whether it’s a substance or the loss of a loved one that needs to be overcome, denial is the first step because we have to accept that we’re having trouble if we are able to start making progress.

    Losing a loved one often puts people into a state of denial as it’s hard to imagine life without this person. Overcoming denial is vital, however, to start moving through the other stages.


    Everyone knows what it’s like to be guilty. It can feel like a terrible weight that’s holding us down. And sometimes we may feel guilty during the grieving process—even if we don’t have a good reason to feel that way.

    This is a common occurrence. People may regret that they didn’t call the deceased one more time before it was too late. They may regret things they said. All of this is common, but feeling guilty won’t help in any meaningful way. It will be essential to get over your guilt before you can move on.


    The loss of a loved one may send some people into a rage. It may be one way that they feel like they can process the loss. Depending on the circumstances, they may be angry at themselves, angry at the deceased, angry at someone they feel is responsible for the death, or perhaps just angry at the whole world.

    Unfortunately, anger is a toxic emotion that is unsustainable. It’s best to try to process your anger in a healthy way so that you can get past it without hurting yourself or others.


    Depression often follows the anger stage, though, as a reminder, these stages may occur in just about any order (although denial is usually first and acceptance is usually the final stage).

    The world may feel like a hollow shell without your loved one in it. It may seem like nothing really has any importance. You may be thinking hard about your own life and mortality, and this can be a difficult thing.

    The good thing is that depression from grief alone tends to pass with time. Nonetheless, you should seek support from others if it’s weighing you down.


    While it may take some time, getting to a place of acceptance is the ultimate goal and the final stage in the grieving process.

    You may occasionally return to the other stages, but, in general, arriving at acceptance means you’ve processed the grief in a way that allows you to move on for good.


    Grief can be a long road of recovery with seemingly endless ups and downs. If this is your situation, don’t worry! Millions of people have faced grief and overcome it, and you can too. That said, don’t hesitate to get the help you may need.


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