From Surviving 2 Thriving

Suzanne Butz - PACFA Registered Clinical Counsellor

What are the 5 Stages of Grief

Grief carries various emotions that come and go, and can be experienced simultaneously. We need to allow ourselves to experience all of these to effectively ‘process’ grief.


Denial is common defence mechanism,. It may help to buffer the immediate shock of a painful or hurtful situation
Denial may show up as dreams of the situation being as it was before, After this first
reaction of shock and denial we may go numb for a while – emotionally,
psychologically and physically.
Denial is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain. Eventually the feelings and emotions will resurface, and your healing journey continues.

Guilt/Blame and Anger

These stages of grief will not take the pain of loss away, but experiencing them fully allows us to gently gain an acceptance of the change that has happened in our world.
These emotions can be confusing when we expect to simply feel sadness. We may feel we should have done more to prevent the loss, or want to blame others for not doing enough. Anger may arises as we try to hide the guilt and blame we feel. And
that leads us to feel even more guilty. Find healthy ways to express these emotions – drawing, writing, singing and other creative approaches are helpful.


This stage of grief helps us hold on to hope during this situation of intense pain. We
might think “If only…” or “What if…” We might think that we are willing to sacrifice
everything if our life could be restored to how it was before our loss. These thoughts and emotions help us to heal as we confront the reality of our loss.

Sadness / Depression

During this stage, we start facing our present reality and the inevitability of the loss we have experienced. We can experience ‘situational’ depression (totally normal and
healthy) along with intense sadness and even despair. We may feel fatigued,
vulnerable, confused and distracted, not wanting to move on, not hungry or wanting to eat, not able or will to get ready in the morning, and/or not able to enjoy what we once did – and assorted other stress symptoms.


Acceptance is our ability to acknowledge the losses we have experienced, and how
we learn to live with the, and readjust our life to accommodate this lose.

Everyone grieves differently – there is no right/wrong way to grieve and no set
timeframe. Each of us experiences the above stages differently and at different
times. Each stage is not discrete or sequential – e.g. we can feel depression and
anger at the same time. And acceptance does not mean we won’t fee sad
about the loss at some future time. There is no right/wrong way to grieve, and no
deadline. Reach out for help if your grief is overwhelming you.

Download this information as a pdf file  – Stages of Grief

© Suzanne Butz, Help Is It t/a Stress2Bliss & FromSurviving2Thriving 2020