Shock and/or Denial:

A reaction to the loss with numbed disbelief.  One may deny the reality of the loss either consciously or unconsciously.  Avoidance of the pain occurs.  Shock and denial helps to avoid the overwhelming emotions from emerging all at once. This stage may last days or weeks.


Pain and/or Guilt: As the shock wears off, unbelievable suffering and pain emerge.  Feeling of guilt or remorse over wishes and regrets may occur.  Life may feel chaotic and terrifying during this stage.


Anger and/or Frustration:  Feelings of anger may emerge, as well s unwarranted blame towards others.  Frustration over the powerlessness of the situation may also occur.  This is the stage where the release of a number of emotions appears.  This release is often critical in dealing with all situations of grief and loss.


Depression and/or Reflection:  This stage marks a long period of sadness for many individuals.  It usually begins with the realization of the true magnitude of the loss, followed by intense sorrow and deep reflection.  Social isolation is common, along with feelings of emptiness and despair.  

An Upward Turn: Through the intense sorrow and reflection comes a sense of calmness and organization.  Solutions to problems seem to become more realistic.   Ideas on how to reconstruct one’s life after suffering a devastating loss become more manageable.


Acceptance and/or Hope: Acceptance occurs when anger, frustration, pain, and sorrow give way to peace and the roots of optimism.  Understanding the loss and it’s meaning in the present and for the future are gained.  Meaning and purpose are either partially or fully restored, though you recognize that the loss will always be with you, carrying both joy and sadness throughout the rest of life’s journey.

© 2019 Trish Stephens, Psychotherapist - Ottawa, Canada