Psychiatrist Blog

The 7 Stages of Grief – Dealing with Loss and Sadness

man looking at ocean feeling grief
  1. Disbelief and Shock: The initial reaction of loss creates a feeling of numbness and doubt. This form of emotional protection can last from days to weeks.  
  2. Denial: The mind goes into protection mode to avoid the pain and the reality of the loss. 
  3. Guilt and Pain: As the numbness begins to fade and and one feels the realization of someone’s death we develop emotional pain. Including remorse over miss opportunities one did or didn’t do with their loved ones prior to their passing. 
  4. Bargaining: Trying to make sense of the loss and finding reason behind it. 
  5. Anger: Individuals may have unwarranted reactions and lash out at others around them or they may experience anger towards themselves. 
  6. Depression: Also knows and profound sadness. During this time one may feel loneliness and isolation. In this phase one may struggle with work and personal relationships as well as daily activities such as self hygiene, cooking, and cleaning. 
  7. Acceptance: During this time we are learning to restructure life without the person. We begin to clean out our loved ones personal items. We start to carry out our life again and start new project or hobbies 

Grief is a natural response to loss. This process can last anywhere from six months to a year. However, persistent grief is defined as grief that last beyond twelve months. Grief can cause a variety of physical and emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, fatigue or general pain. Grief can cause stress on the body and increase your body’s inflammatory process causing your immune system to be suppressed. This can make one more susceptible to different illnesses such as viral infections. 

In order to treat grief, we need to embrace grief. One must heal from the loss of a loved one by feeling all of their emotions. Grief is also treated with with healthy life choices, including, diet and exercise. Staying active, whether that is a simple walk a day can help ease depression and agitation. Following a good sleep hygiene is essential as grief can be emotionally exhausting. Participating in activities such as yoga and meditation allow one to relax and reverse the effects of stress and anxiety. Therapy is also an essential component to treating grief. Therapy allows individuals to talk about how they are feeling and remind themselves that this is a normal response to the loss of a loved one. In other cases individuals may also need psychotropic medications. Antidepressants are appropriate during the grieving process, especially when individuals have persistent grief. Antidepressant’s allow the increase of serotonin in our bodies to help process the grief one is experiencing. Everyone responds to grief differently and there is no right or wrong way. If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one it is important to surround your self with friends and family and reach out for medical help. 

If you are experiencing grief and need help please contact us at or give us a call at 714.545.5550


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