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Funeral Guide

How to know what stage of grief you are experiencing

Grief is an intensely personal and profound experience, affecting each of us in deeply individual ways. Although, despite its unique impact, there are common threads that run through the experiences of many who mourn. 

Recognising where you are in the process of grief, although extremely difficult at times, can be immensely helpful, not only for understanding your own emotions and reactions but also for communicating your needs to others and seeking the right kind of support. In the following sections we will delve into each stage of grief, offer insights into signs and symptoms and explain how some people often navigate these complex emotional waters

Understanding the five stages of grief

A model first introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969 in her book ‘On Death And Dying’, the five stages of grief are outlined as; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. In her writing, Kübler-Ross, explains that these stages are not linear and can be experienced at any time, in any order. Here’s a closer look at each stage:


Denial serves as a shock absorber for the initial impact of loss. A feeling of numbness or detachment is common at this phase with individuals finding it hard to believe the loss has actually occurred. Although a temporary response, denial carries you through the first wave of pain and shock. 


As the masking effects of denial begin to wear off, reality and its pain re-emerge. Anger can present itself in various ways—anger at the situation, at others, at the deceased, or at the world. It’s important to recognise that this anger is a normal part of grief, reflecting the intensity of the love and connection that you have lost. 


When we are in pain it can be hard to accept that there is nothing we can do to change things. During the bargaining stage, individuals often dwell on what could have been done differently to prevent the loss or mitigate its impact. “If only” and “what if” questions are common at this stage, with many often leaning toward making deals with themselves or perhaps God for those who are religious.


When we think of grief, deep sadness and longing often come to mind. In the Depression phase, this pain can be profoundly intense, ebbing and flowing over many months or even years. This is a time when individuals start to grasp the extent of their loss and its lasting impact on their lives.


Acceptance does not mean being okay with the loss – this stage is about understanding and accepting the reality that this loss is permanent and realising how we can come to terms with it. It is not a phase of sudden happiness and the ability to forget the tragedy that has occurred, but starting to plan for a life that acknowledges this altered state of existence.

Practical tips for navigating the stages of grief

Navigating the complex and often unpredictable world of grief is challenging. While each person’s journey is unique, there are some ways that can help ease the process across these various stages of grief. Here are some tips to consider:

Recognise and Accept Your Feelings

Allow yourself to feel the many emotions that come with grief. Whether it’s anger, sadness, frustration, or confusion, these feelings are normal. Acknowledging them can be a significant first step in processing your grief.

Seek Support

You don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out to family members, friends, or grief support groups who can offer empathy and understanding. If your grief feels too overwhelming to manage on your own, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional who specialises in grief can be an alternate route to take.

Honour Your Loved One

Finding ways to memorialise the person or thing you’ve lost can provide comfort and a sense of legacy. This is something we pride ourselves in at T.Allen – we are here to help you honour your loved ones and are committed to supporting those grieving at this time.

Get in touch – Let our family help yours

If this guide has helped you identify your current stage of grief, or if you’re seeking further clarification and support, we’re here to help. Get in touch today and let us help you honour your loved ones with appropriate support.