A Non-Linear Process: The 5 Stages of Grief

Monday, February 8, 2021

One way to deal with the emotions of losing a loved one is by trying to understand what it is that you're feeling.

Everyone deals with grief in different ways. There aren't any rules for overcoming the devastation of someone close to you dying, whether it's expected or not. 

That being said, psychologists have developed a sort of framework for understanding grief and how it affects people. In her book, On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross laid out the 5 stages of grief that many people go through after a major loss. Although they're outlined in a linear way, there's nothing formal or linear about grief.

In this post, we're going to examine the different stages and discuss how understanding them in whichever way works for you can help you overcome your grief.

How Does Grief Work?

As defined by Kubler-Ross, the 5 stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

There's nothing saying that you shouldn't feel angry or depressed before you come to terms with the loss of your loved one. In fact, it's entirely normal to feel the full effects of all of these stages at once.

What is actually going to help you grieve is getting to understand what each stage brings to the table. Being open to feeling these emotions is what will help you ultimately achieve some inner peace. You can't replace those you've lost, but you can keep them dear in your heart.

Understanding the 5 Stages of Grief

When you see something laid out in 5 distinct stages, you might expect to feel distinct changes as you move through each phase, but this isn't how it goes for everyone.

Chances are, there's going to be some blurred lines. Let's define each stage more clearly.


Denial is the overwhelming feeling that typically happens right after you find out someone is ill or has passed. It's not that you're literally denying that it's happening, but you're in a state of shock and you can't believe it's happening to you.


Not everyone experiences intense anger, but it comes when you're emotionally overwhelmed and you take it out on someone or something. Your anger could even be directed at the deceased person.


Bargaining is the feeling that there's something you could have done to change the outcome or maybe having regrets over things you did or said while the person was alive. It stems from the desire to change the ultimate outcome, which is unchangeable.


Depression is difficult to define when you're talking about grief. Sadness is often confused with depression, but they're two different concepts that can both be brought on by grief.

Sadness is the more reactionary emotion you experience during the grieving process. Depression is more private and can sometimes have great effects on your long-term mental health.


Likewise, acceptance is often confused with a feeling of serenity, but that's not true either. When it comes to grief, acceptance isn't a goal you achieve, but it comes when you realize that you have to move on with your life. It doesn't have to be the last stage of grief, but it often comes after you've gone through a few of the other stages.

Dealing With Grief

Now that you understand the 5 stages of grief in greater detail, you can figure out which stage you're in as it's happening. When a loved one passes on, you've got to deal with your grief, but you've also got to complete their funerary wishes. 

At Schumacher and Benner, we can help you take care of all of the funeral arrangements so that you can deal with your grief. Visit our website today to learn more about our services.

At Schumacher & Benner Funeral Home and Crematory, we want to take care of you and your family in any way possible. Our services include traditional funeral services, celebration of life services, cremations, selection of memorial and headstones, and more.  

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