Understanding Grief: A Guide Through the Grieving Process

For every 1,000 Americans, almost nine will die this year. It’s possible that one of those deaths is of someone to whom you’re close.

Death is a taboo subject for many people which is unfortunate. Because grief hits us all at one time or another. Not everyone handles grief the same way but there are some common denominators.

Our guide helps when it comes to understanding grief and its common stages.

Understanding Grief and its Stages

Everyone processes emotions in different ways. Some people go through these exact stages but not everyone does. Some people process grief in healthy ways while others have unhealthy responses.

If your grief feels out of control, please seek counseling.

Denial of Loss

Denial is often the first stage of grief. It helps you cope with the loss and continue with your life. It helps with day-to-day survival.

As the reality of the loss sinks in, the healing process starts. It often comes with lots of questions. Sometimes the questions lead to a lot of anger.

Feeling Angry

The feeling of anger is normal. Don’t suppress it. If a loved one died in the hospital, your anger may be toward the doctor or hospital.

You might be angry at other family members, yourself, or God. Pain hides beneath the anger. Let yourself feel and process the anger.


Bargaining is something that most often happens when a loved one is dying. We ask God or the universe to spare our loved one, offering something in return. But bargaining happens after death as well.

Sometimes our minds trick us into thinking we’ll wake up and our loved one will still be there. Bargaining comes with a lot of “if only…” thoughts as well as guilt.


As we move into the present moment and the reality that our loved one is gone, depression often sets in. This is deep grief that feels unending. It’s common and shouldn’t worry you unless it doesn’t go away.

Some signs include:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Issues with appetite – eating too much or not enough
  • Sleep problems
  • Weakness

The emotional stress of grief causes physical manifestations for many people. Common emotional symptoms are guilt, anger, and anxiety. Sadness, numbness, and loneliness are other signs of depression from grief.


Acceptance doesn’t mean you’re okay with the loss. It means you understand the reality that your loved one is gone. Listen to your emotions and body, take care of yourself, and maintain close social connections.

Search for meaning in your lost loved one’s life. This can help with the grieving process.

Take Care of Yourself Through the Grieving Process

Understanding grief doesn’t make it go away but it does help you through the stages. Be kind to yourself and those around you experiencing grief.

Losing a loved one is the natural course of life but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. But with some self-care and love, you’ll get through this difficult time.

Something you can do to ease your loved ones at the time of your death is to pre-plan your funeral. If that’s something that interests you, please contact us.