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Stages of Grief

STAGES OF GRIEF

(This may be used with various groups and individuals)

Grief is a normal, healthy and predictable response to loss. Although there are distinct phases in the grieving process, people go through these stages in different sequences and at different paces. Generally the grieving process in adults is thought to take about two years, while with children and adolescents it may be over a more extended time-frame with different issues arising as they go through developmental milestones.

Denial, numbness, shock (up to 6 weeks)

  • Death of the person may be denied
  • Emerging feelings may be suppressed
  • Refusal to talk about the death
  • Bereaved keeps very busy to avoid thinking about the death
  • Bereaved may show signs of confusion and forget everyday routines
  • Children in shock may display either silent withdrawal or outbursts of crying.

Acute grief/searching and longing for deceased (6 weeks to 4 months)

  • Acute sadness – crying
  • Physical pangs of pain including loss of appetite and disturbed sleep
  • Emotional pain accompanied by dejection, hopelessness, lack of concentration
  • Fears of life after death, nightmares, ghosts
  • Disorganisation
  • Strong guilt feelings and questioning of self and others, particularly in the case of a sudden death Feelings of anger at the departed for leaving them
  • Bereaved may reject offers to comfort them.

Adaptation to life without the deceased (6 months to 18 months)

  • People begin to adjust to their lives without the person who is gone Sense of isolation
  • Fearful of forgetting the deceased
  • Less crying and irritability
  • Exacerbation of existing personality problems. Children with low self-esteem may be at a greater risk of emotional/behavioural diffculties.

Normalisation of life

  • Getting on with life
  • Returned sense of humour and play
  • Able to participate emotionally in new relationships
  • Changed relationship with the deceased – able to think of the deceased without pain Reduction in physical/emotional symptoms
  • Less guilt.

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