The Five Phases Of Sorrow & Steps To Get Through It

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : September 14, 2021

When someone you care about passes away, the universe as you know it is completely turned upside down. According to psychologist Sherry Cormier, one way in which individuals deal is by attempting to establish some kind of certainty.

According to David Kessler, the founder of, a website aimed at helping individuals cope with unknown terrain linked to loss, this desire for structure is undoubtedly one of the factors for the popularity that embraced the “five phases of grieving” more than 50 years ago but hasn’t yet waned. Dr. Kessler collaborated with the late Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross on the book “On Grief and Grieving.”

The Five Phases Of Sorrow & Steps To Get Through It

A psychiatrist, Swiss-American, and pioneer of research on dying individuals, Kübler-Ross authored “On Death and Dying,” his 1969 work in which she suggested the patient-focused, death-adjustment pattern known as the “Five Stages of Grief.” 

Experts in grief and psychology and academia have criticized the concept for not being fully supported by research, for proposing that the bereaved go through mourning sequentially, and for indicating that there is a single correct method of grieving.

The Five Phases Of Sorrow & Steps To Get Through It

1. Denial of the facts

According to Kessler, there is grace in denial because we are unable to register the entire extent of our grief, shock, and disbelief about our loss in a single instant or day, causing the suffering to be spread across time.

While denial in the literal and dysfunctional meaning would be attempting to persuade yourself that your loved one is still alive, an inability to grasp the loss for some time is good and not something from which you should immediately snap out of, according to Dr. Friedman.

2. Arousal of rage

In addition to sadness, anger is a normal response to loss, whether it is directed at the cause of death, the dead, the deity of your religious faith, oneself, or the unpredictability of the world, according to Kessler.

3. The art of bargaining

According to Kessler, bargaining after a loss is usually characterized by “if only” comments centered on regrets about what you did or did not do before the individual died.

4. Suicidal ideation

When a significant loss starts to have a more profound impact on your life, you are said to be depressed or to be experiencing intense sorrow. Perhaps your sorrow seems as if it will stay forever, or you have withdrawn from life or are questioning if it is worthwhile to continue living alone.

5. Acceptance is the fifth step.

Acceptance does not imply that you are content with your loved one’s passing. “It just means that I have come to terms with the new realities of my existence. I’m a widow, and I’m on my own. 

Finding meaning is the sixth step, which has been added recently.

Almost five years after the death of Kessler’s son at the age of 21, the father sought something more than just acceptance. In his efforts to discover the meaning of life, he focused on the writings of neurologist, psychiatrist, and philosopher Viktor Frankl, who had spoken of the need of finding purpose in life — which had inspired his own book, “Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.”

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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