People can experience the five stages of grief at different times and do not happen in one particular order.
Feeling numb is common in the early days after a bereavement. Some people try to carry on as normal and nothing has happened. It can be hard to believe that someone important to us is not coming back, even though we know they have died. It’s also very common to feel the presence of someone who has died, hear their voice or even see them.
Anger is a natural emotion to feel after someone dies. Death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when someone has died young – for example, a child or young person, or you had plans for the future together. It’s also common to feel angry towards the person who has died, or angry at ourselves for things we did or didn’t do before their death.
When we are in pain, at times it’s hard to accept there’s nothing we can do to change things. Bargaining is when we start to make deals with ourselves – if we act in a particular way, we will feel better. It’s also common to find ourselves going over and over things that happened in the past and asking a lot of ‘what if’ questions, wishing we could go back and change things, hoping things could have turned out differently.
Sadness is what we think of most often when thinking about grief. The pain can be very intense and comes in waves over many months or years. Life can feel like it no longer holds any meaning which can be very scary.
Grief comes in waves and it can feel like nothing will ever be right again. But most people find that the pain eases gradually, and it is possible to accept what has happened. We may never ‘get over’ the death of someone close to us, but we can learn to live again, while keeping the memories of those we have lost close to us.