There are five stages of grief, and people across the globe experience them. It doesn’t matter what race, religion, country or the economic status of an individual—we all grieve for a person and the relationship shared with them. Sometimes a person feels grief over the loss of a dearly beloved pet. Mourning can even happen to a person who is dealing with his own impending death from a sickness.

There is no steadfast rule that dictates what particular order a person should feel grief in the five stages. In addition, each individual feels loss at different depths. Many people will show their emotions by crying and talking about how they’re feeling, but other individuals will keep their feelings inside. Each person grieves in his own way. As we go through each step of the process, we are finally able to get to the point where the death is acknowledged and accepted.

The steps of grieving are as follows, and people will go through them at their own pace and in different orders.

1) Refusal to Believe & Seclusion

It is normal to refuse to believe that a loved one has passed away and to reject the realism of the matter. This is a perfectly natural way to react over the overpowering and devastating feelings we have. It’s a way that we protect ourselves from the current impact the death brings. This stage lasts for a brief while and helps us deal with the misery that we are feeling.

2) Anger

With the refusal to believe in the situation, another stage emerges—anger. Anger is an important emotion to experience, especially because we sometimes feel all alone after finding out about the loss of a loved one. Now you have something that you can actually feel—the anger. While most people work hard to cover up their angry feelings, it is critical to feel and acknowledge it at this point.

You may find that your anger is directed toward somebody who didn’t send condolences about your loved one or at a person who isn’t there to help console you. Many people get angry at the loved one’s health professional, because he wasn’t able to find a solution to the medical condition. Sometimes the anger is geared toward family members or close friends. Anger is an emotion that shows the magnitude of love you felt for the person who died.

3) Bargaining (Making a Deal)

This stage is when the emotions focus on having been unable to help in the situation. It is at this point when you find it necessary to get in command of the situation and get your bearings. Many people think they should have taken the person to the doctor earlier. Others feel they should have sought the medical advice of more than one doctor. Still others think they should have been nicer and more appreciative of the person who passed away.

4) Depression (Despair)

When you find out about the loss of a loved one or a pet, you can be overcome with s sense of sadness and anguish. Because these feelings have overshadowed everything else in your life, you may be concerned that you haven’t given enough of your time to the people in your life (such as a spouse or children) who need you. During this stage, it is important that others assist you by being kind, which will be a comfort while you’re undergoing these emotions.

You may want to spend time by yourself as you sort out your feelings and get ready to say goodbye to the person you loved. Time alone is important as you take stock of everything the individual meant to you and all of the emotions you’re feeling. At this point, a gentle embrace is welcomed.

5) Acceptance (Acknowledgement)

This is a stage where the person experiencing the grief is reserved and shows a sense of peacefulness.

When an individual is dying of an illness or of old-age, this fifth stage isn’t something they’re necessarily cognizant of. Their health may have deteriorated to the extent that they have the same response as the person in mourning. They may be at the point when their association with others is greatly curbed.

Not everybody is able to feel the acceptance of loss. Sometimes an individual is killed in a tragic accident, and it is unexpected. At times, the rage some people feel is hard to get past.

When you are dealing with the loss of a loved one or a pet, or if there is somebody in your life who is dealing with a terminal illness, it is vital to allow yourself to feel the different emotions at each of the five stages of grief. They are normal reactions to grief, and when you try to hold the feelings in—or want to appear “strong” to others—you will only end up making the progression to healing take much longer.

Tips for Staying Healthy When Grieving

When you are mourning the loss of a loved one, you are consumed with grief. It is one of the most crippling times in your life, and the grief seems to overpower everything you do, whether it’s on the job, when trying to accomplish the smallest of tasks or sometimes even getting the day started. It is important to take care of yourself when you are struggling to deal with the stages of grief. The following are suggestions to ensure that you stay well.

  • You need to get an adequate amount of sleep to be able to deal with the grief and all of the other things in your life. If you feel tired, try to take a catnap or find a serene setting to quietly sit.
  • With so many things on your mind, it is hard to keep track of everything you need to accomplish. Jot down the things you have to do and the appointments you have. You will not have to worry about neglecting something important or missing a critical meeting. It may also help to have another person give you reminders. It is normal to have a difficult time remembering things, and in time you will be back to normal.
  • Many people don’t want to cry in front of others or try to stop the flow of tears and quickly compose themselves. Let the tears out, because it is a healthful way to express your emotions.
  • Find somebody who you trust and feel secure with, and let them know how you are feeling. Sometimes feeling content and at ease talking with another person is tremendously uplifting to your spirit.
  • Writing about how you feel in a notebook can let the emotions out. It’s a safe and therapeutic way to help yourself deal with the many feelings you’re undergoing.
  • If you do not currently exercise every day, make it a part of your daily schedule now. Whether it is a jog around the block or some simple stretches, it will help get the stress out. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day should help.
  • Don’t skip meals, and pass on the junk food. It is important to keep your body nourished by eating healthy meals—or, if you feel that you can’t eat a full meal, try to eat small meals several times daily.