Stages of Bereavement


As to the number of stages of bereavement, opinions vary greatly. It even goes by different names. We call it – stages of, a process, steps, cycle, circle, time or timeline of grief.


There are several models: the three phases of grief, four stages, the five steps outlined by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross which was actually written for people who were facing their own death, as well as one listing seven cycles.


Finally Granger Westberg outlines ten stages in the book listed below:

Good Grief: 50th Anniversary Edition

1) Shock
2) Emotion
3) Depressed / Lonely
4) Physical Symptoms
5) Panicky about our Preoccupation
6) Guilt
7) Anger / Resentment
8) Resist Returning
9) Hope
10) Struggle to Affirm Reality


The name given to the process we all go through does not really matter. Nor do we have to agree on the number of stages we go through.

However understanding what some of these steps are does help us. It helps us to realize what we are feeling and experiencing is “normal”, if one can call it that.




It is very important to remember that these are general standards of what to expect. Not a hard, fast, set of steps everyone processes through at the same rate. Nor does everyone go through every stage.


Westberg says it so well in his little book;


“It is true, no one has ever grieved exactly as we are grieving, because no two people face even the same kind of loss in the same way. But the awful experience of being utterly depressed and isolated is a universal phenomenon.”


Who we lose, the different relationships, when and how death is experienced also affects how we cope and work through things.


Don’t expect yourself to go through at a prescribed pace!

I have found grief to be like an onion (I know it’s a homely picture!). You think you have gotten to the bottom layer (of your mourning) only to find another layer peeling off long later. It comes up to surprise you!




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Scripture Verse

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

Psalm 91:4





I have found this book to be a very helpful resource.  It is a short and simple read.