Five stages of grief

Five stages of grief: How people navigate it

The COVID-19 pandemic put the spotlight on living with trauma. It also led to many pondering about the five stages of grief and how we process our pain and loss. Psychiatrist Dr Sagar Mundada breaks it down for us. He shares, “When people are faced with any traumatic situation, they generally go through the five stages of grief. From denial to anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. The intensity, and pattern of coping varies from person to person.”

The five stages of grief are

Not everyone experiences all of the stages in the same order. It varies according to what a person’s premorbid personality is. That actually determines how long the person will take to come to terms with a tragedy.

  • Denial

When an individual is faced with trauma. His or her first response is likely to be to deny what has happened. This is because he or she is trying to come to terms with the pain, loss and grief.

  • Anger

Once the individual has realised that there is no point in denying what has happened, he or she is likely to vent out their helplessness. Not being in control of the situation also could lead to him or her lashing out in anger.

  • Bargaining

When both denial and anger fail, the individual tries to buy his way out of the situation by bargaining. For example, when the lockdown rules were eased, many tried to bargain their way out about how much time they could spend outdoors.

  • Depression

If bargaining failed, the individual would lose hope, and feel low. He or she would see things in extremes, and in that moment the world would seem like a very bleak place for them.

  • Acceptance

This is the last stage where an individual finally makes peace with the tragedy, and vows to carry on with life acknowledging what has happened, and deciding on a course of action to cope better.

It’s not necessary that everyone will experience all of the stages or will go through all the stages in that order. However, no matter what the tragedy is the way people deal with grief does not change.