The five stages of grief is a model of the grieving process that was suggested by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. It names five distinct feelings or thought processes that grieving people may go through before and after a funeral service or another loss. Not everyone will go through all of these stages or experience them in this order.

The Stages of Grief

1. Denial

Loss is an enormous idea to process. Often, the initial reaction is to disbelieve it or to not fully understand it--to think this can't be happening, or to not realize the full extent of the loss right away. Denial buys time to absorb the information a little at a time and to cushion you from the emotional impact.

2. Anger

During this stage, you are likely feeling many other emotions, like fear, pain, and even guilt. Anger can seem easier to feel and express than these complicated emotions, and you might look for someone to blame. You might also lash out at those close to you. It can be difficult to control.

3. Bargaining

FuneralsDuring the bargaining stage, people look for a way to stop or undo the loss. This can take the form of making a deal with God or a higher power. Someone in this stage might promise to be a better person in return for a loved one's life.

4. Depression

Depression is a common reaction to feeling the full weight of loss. This happens when you're not able to deny, blame, or bargain, and are simply left with the enormous reality of the loss. People who are depressed can withdraw from others and may even stop tending to their own needs and responsibilities.

5. Acceptance

Acceptance in this process doesn't mean the end of sadness. It means reaching a point where you're no longer struggling against the grief. At this point, you understand your loss and aren't imagining ways around it. Some people describe this point as being at peace.


During this time of loss, a compassionate and respectful funeral home can help make your grieving process easier. Shirley Brothers Mortuaries & Crematory in Indianapolis, IN, was founded in the 19th century in central Indiana. This family-run establishment offers online grief counseling 24/7 in addition to meaningful, personalized funerals. Call (317) 897-9606 or visit their website for help.