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The Many Faces of Grief: Exploring Bereavement and Its Stages

Grief is a life experience that affects each of us in a unique way. It can be overwhelming, as it may simultaneously encompass a range of emotions. According to the Recovery Village, about 2.5 million people die in the United States annually, each leaving an average of five grieving people behind. That means that approximately 12.5 million people are going through the grieving or bereavement process every year. Given the sheer number of people experiencing grief, it is evident that its impact is profound and far-reaching.

What is Bereavement?

Bereavement is the profound range of emotions you experience after the death of a loved one. You may feel like crying, becoming angry, withdrawing from others, or feeling empty. You may be struggling with deep-seated fears as time goes on. You may think that your friends may distance you, leaving you alone in your pain. While you may want to get over the loss of your beloved, you may feel guilty that you will forget them, and their memories will fade. The feeling of being judged is familiar with grief, and so you may be scared that people will judge you for moving on or not grieving enough. This may lead to further isolation and prolonged grief.
Remember that it’s okay to feel these fears and that you are not alone. Understanding the stages of bereavement will provide clarity and help you to understand what you are experiencing.

The Five Stages of Bereavement

Denial serves as a defense mechanism and is the first stage of bereavement. This may cause you to become numb and give yourself time to process the loss, as the reality of the situation may be challenging to accept at first.

Anger is another stage where there are so many emotions that you become angry to mask and hide all the feelings creeping up. You may also feel anger towards the deceased, wondering why they left you. You may then feel guilty for being angry, thus feeling angry at yourself. Irritability, rage and bitterness are other emotions you may feel during this stage.

Bargaining is a stage where you create “what if” scenarios. You may reason, ‘What if I do this, maybe they will come back.’ It is as if you are negotiating with someone to undo the loss. At this stage, you are willing to do anything for your loved one to return.

During this next stage of depression, the loss of your beloved becomes a reality, and you feel intense sadness and despair. Depression can be manifested both emotionally and physically. You may lose appetite, extreme fatigue, insomnia or low motivation.

During acceptance, you acknowledge the loss and look forward to moving on. This does not mean that you forget your loved one or are no longer sad, but you have come to terms with the reality of the loss.

There is no proper order to go through the stages of grief. Sometimes, people may move back and forth between these stages, which can be a complicated and confusing experience. If you struggle to process your emotions, seeking professional help is okay. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Grief Therapy in California

There is no right way to grieve, as everyone experiences it differently. Whether you have been suffering for a long or short time, know you can be supported during this difficult time. Grief therapists are trained to provide compassionate and supportive care to those who are going through a difficult time.

At Nurturing Connections Counseling, we aim to make grief therapy easily accessible, destigmatized, affordable, and personalized to meet the unique needs of every individual. We offer therapy that is caring, committed and impactful. Our values include collaboration, quality care, and transparent business practices, making us a warm and caring choice for those seeking positive change.

We help you navigate grief at your own pace.

Little by little, you can heal.

Counseling for couples and individuals. Serving Tustin, Irvine, Orange, And Across California.

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