Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ 7 Stages of Grief

Written by Heather Penn

Life is full of stages. Life itself is considered to have four stages. The first stage, stage one, encompasses birth, infancy, childhood to adolescence. Stage two is adolescence, early adulthood to adulthood. Stage three is adulthood, midlife to mature adulthood. The last stage, the fourth ends with late adulthood and death. But what of the other stages in life? Stages, whether labeled or not are a natural part of living. Some, like the life stages and grief will be experienced by most everyone. Grief can be debilitating especially when someone finds themselves stuck in any one of the seven stages. This article is designed to help those impacted by grief understand the various stages, hopefully aiding in the healing process.


  1. Shock. This is nature’s anesthetic, kicking in immediately after the loss to ease some of the initial pain. It is natural, and yet it is not a good place to stay. When a person stays too long in shock, other normal emotional processes begin to shut down, leading to numbness, coldness and sometimes depression.


  1. Denial. This a kind of mental “shock,” in which your mind refuses to accept the reality of the loss. Again, it is natural, but it is not a place to stay. Prolonged denial can lead to numerous other types of problems, with anger, depression and relationship problems.
  1. Anger. This is a big “No!” to the reality of the loss. It is a powerful and in many cases understandable reaction to the extreme pain of loss. Many people move through the 7 stages of grief without experiencing anger or having any anger control issues. If unresolved, the anger stage can lead to depression, bitterness and even anger addiction


  1. Bargaining. This stage is a kind of confusion, where you actually look for ways to argue or “reason” your way out of the pain of the loss. This, like the other phases of grief, must be worked through to avoid further problems


  1. Depression. Out of all of the 7 stages of grief, this one is perhaps the “stickiest,” meaning a lot of people get stuck here, and don’t realize it. As you could see in the above information, depression can result from not completing those earlier stages. It is a dangerous “stopover” in the grieving process, and some folks never leave that place.


  1. Testing. Things start to get a little better here. This is where you are starting to find solutions, ways to move through the stages of grief to resolution and recovery.


  1. Acceptance. Here is the resolution you need. Accepting the reality of the loss allows you to feel all of your emotion.


“It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward. “

~ Patti Davis


About the author

Heather Penn

Leave a Comment