The Five Stages of Grief

Funeral: 01/01/1970 at

For our inaugural blog entry, we’ll be looking at some of the common ways people cope with grief, based on the Kübler-Ross model outlined in the famous book On Death and Dying. Please note: all people are different, and not everyone will experience these stages the same exact way. We want to stress that there is no wrong way to grieve! However, these stages are a good overall guide for what to expect in the event of a loss – or if you need to help a friend or family member through their own losses.

The stages, in order, are as follows:


Usually, the first stage is shock and denial. Numbness may set in after a traumatic loss, and the whole situation may feel surreal. Do not mistake these feelings (or lack of feelings) for a lack of caring! This is a coping mechanism to shut one’s self away from the reality of the situation, and it may take a while for the true weight of the loss to sink in.


The second stage of grief is anger. This anger could be directed inward, out at others, or at God or the universe. People will question why they have to be the ones carry such a heavy burden. If you know someone dealing with loss, try your best to be as nonjudgmental as possible, even if their anger seems misplaced or irrational.


This stage may include thoughts about what could have been done to stop the loss from happening – even though the situation was probably completely out of the person’s control. It is good to try to find resolution during this time (if it’s yourself), or to help your friend/family member find resolution, as constant self-incrimination and guilt could be damaging to the overall healing process.


The next stage is depression. Those dealing with loss may wonder why they need to go on. All things, even those once held dear, lose meaning, and the person may spend a lot of time alone working through the cloud of regret, fear, and uncertainty that has finally started to settle in. While a difficult phase, dealing with these feelings is perfectly normal, and is even an early form of the true acceptance that will come later.

But, even if things look dark at this point, there is hope and healing just on the horizon…


The last stage – and the light at the end of the long tunnel – is acceptance. Those who have felt loss are now able to work through the process in a calm way and finally come to terms with what happened. Life is never the same after loss, of course. Many who have dealt with such things often report that they are able to live normally, make new connections with people, and feel joy, but it’s a “new normal.”

However, even if things can never be exactly the same again, it is completely possible to heal, come to acceptance with the past, and once again look forward with hope! Healing is always, always a possibility! No matter how dark things seem, there is a point where you will be able to look back on the memories of your loved one with happiness and fondness, not just crushing sadness.

At McMahan’s Funeral Home, we always meet people right where they are, no matter what step they are currently on in the journey through grief.