You have likely heard of the five stages of grief.
They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Each person will go through stages differently and will not necessarily go through them all and can skip some. But getting to these stages is widely believed to lead the way towards recovery.
When a tragedy occurs, people deny that it happened. They don’t want to believe that it is possible, so they excuse it away. The initial reaction is when they wake up from the nightmare, everything will be back to normal and life will go on as it did before.
When the realization of the situation comes to the forefront, people get angry. They blame themselves and others, and they may even challenge their faith. They ask themselves how was this allowed to happen. Anger can be a longer lasting stage than the others and can carry through onto the next stages.
It’s natural for people to make deals stating they will be a better person or do things differently in the future if they can reverse the situation at hand. They make promises in the hope that they can reverse the circumstance. This stage tends to be short-lived, especially when it’s a situation that won’t turn around no matter what kind of promises are made.
The depression stage is particularly tricky because it can last longer than most believe it should and if not handled correctly can be the source of problems. People tend to use this stage as an excuse to abuse drugs and alcohol. It can also be used as an extension of them feeling sorry for themselves.
It’s perfectly understandable for people to do this for a little while. But, it becomes a problem when it gets in the way of moving on with their life. This is a big reason for overusing and abusing drugs and alcohol.
When people get to acceptance, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are instantly happy, and the situation that caused them to grieve is over. It just means they know they have to continue with their life, and it sets the foundation for a new path. They will never forget the situation. They just know they have to keep going. It can eventually lead to being happy again and is the only stage where they will feel right in doing so.
None of these stages are clearly defined or delineated.
Some people will experience them quickly while others will take much longer to get through each stage.