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“Death, loss, pain and grief are pervasive and inevitable aspects of the human experience.

 They touch all of us in different ways, times and cultures. As we confront the mystery of loss, we are faced with questions about who we are and why we are here. Each of us must deal with the issues of meaning and purpose in our lives, in our own ways and in our own time.” Hooyman & Kramer, (2006)

Understanding the Grieving Process

Grief is a normal response to loss and losing someone close to you is extremely painful. The pain can feel overwhelming and can also disrupt your well-being. You may find it difficult to sleep and eat healthy and sometimes find it hard to even think.

Grief can also be experienced, for example by: 

  • Loss of friendships
  • Loss of a job
  • Moving house or to another area
  • Retirement
  • A miscarriage
  • Other life changes


Stages of Grief

In 1969  Psychiatrist Kubler-Ross introduced the ‘five stages of grief.’ 

The five stages can be experienced in any order and often we move back and forth between stages that we have already experienced. It’s also important to remember that every person has their own way of grieving, and no two people handle a loss the same way.


1- Denial and Isolation

The first reaction after being confronted with a loss can be denial. It helps us to rationalise painful emotions. Denial is a form of defense mechanism to help us overcome the first shock.

2- Anger

As reality of the loss sets in, you may experience anger, Anger towards the deceased, or against the situation you find yourself in, or it may be directed towards family and friends. 

3- Bargaining

In this stage you want to make a deal with some higher power, or you think if only you had done something differently, the loss would not have happened.

4- Depression

Depression can set in and regret about not having spent enough time with a loved one or worry about the future can bring about feelings of being overwhelmed. Sadness may set in as you prepare to say good bye.

5- Acceptance

Some people reach a point of acceptance, and some may not. As part of counselling for grief, your therapist will help you move through all the stages and bring you to a point of acceptance.

The 5 stages of grief are not intended to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who grieves. It rather is a way of looking how grief may be experienced and each person will experience it in their own unique way.




Complicated grief

As you pass through your grief you might notice that the intensity of your emotions lessens as you accept your loss and move on with your life.

Sometimes it happens that your grief is getting worse, and you may have developed depression and/or a condition called complicated grief.

Complicated grief is like being stuck and you can’t accept your loss. You are in a constant state of mourning and continue to feel overwhelming sadness. 

Therapy is a place where you can work through your emotions with a therapist’s support and find your way back to a fulfilling life.



Axelrod., J. (n.d.). The 5 stages of Loss and Grief. Retrieved on, 12th December 2013, from,

Kübler-Ross, E. (1969) On Death and Dying, Routledge

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