The Grief Cycle

January 6, 2017


The stages of grief...

Whether you are a religious or spiritual soul or not, once you have actually gotten through the work of mourning, you'll look back on it all with wonder. Right now, you won't understand this, but in retrospect, you'll be forced to admit it is a miraculously designed process. 

There is a good reason for each step or stage of the grief process.

Grief  doesn't actually follow a neat little progression of stages or cycles. It's much messier than that. It's a very complicated and personal thing. There will be a lot of regression, or backtracking to earlier "stages" or "tasks". And that's okay. It just means you weren't yet finished, and are fully working it through in your own way.


Important Points About the Stages of Grief

The stages of grief...

We give here a brief overview of the "grief stages" so you will understand better what is happening to you, and what to expect in the future. There are several "theories" about how grief works, and experts have proposed several working models. We present four of the most commonly utilized models below.

We suggest you read about them all, as they make for interesting reading, and each one adds a little bit more insight. But remember, these are just models, just scholars trying to get their minds around one of the most complicated emotional processes of the human experience.

And keep these points in mind as you read:


  • You're really not going crazy!

  • Many others have had to travel this hard road before you. You are not alone.

  • Grief is a long-term process, and you will have good days and bad.

  • There is hope-- brighter days lie ahead for you.

  • You will never return to your pre-grief state, but you will eventually find joy in life in new ways that you invent.

  • There really are no true "stages of grief" and no time frame for mourning.

  • The New Grief Stages

  • These are the three phases of the New Grief Stages:


  • SHOCK-

  • New grief stages...Upon receiving the bad news of the death of a dearly loved one, most people react with an initial period of shock, or numbed disbelief. This is actually your psyche protecting your mind from being overwhelmed all at once by the tragedy. Many report being unable to function or perform even simple tasks or make decisions. You may have a sense of unreality, or feel like you are "sleepwalking". This is a time for the gathering of family and friends to offer you support. Accept it, and let them help you through the mourning rituals and funeral decisions that must be made. You'll have physical symptoms such as agitation, weakness, crying and aimless activity. Shock may last for hours, even up to weeks. But then reality slowly sets in...



  • New grief stages...As the shock wears off, the pain begins. This is a time of emotional upheaval, and you will experience overwhelming and excruciating pain. Pain so palpable as to feel physical as well as emotional. Physical symptoms may include loss of appetite and weight, chest pain, insomnia and extreme fatigue. Emotional symptoms of sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, restlessness, and agitation may occur. The hallmarks of this phase are rapid mood swings, intense emotions and loss of control over your psyche. You may even feel like you are losing your sanity.This is the stage at which you need the most emotional support from friends and family. Unfortunately, by this time, they have probably gone back home to the business of living their lives. Or they may pressure you to "get over it" and "get on with your life". And so you are left to cope alone. Seek out someone to help support you, and/or find a support group to lend an ear. It is important that you not grieve alone. Later in this second stage, you will come to a more orderly existence, but you will feel lonely and depressed, alternating with waves of intense grief. The "roller coaster ride" of grief. As long as your emotions are moving and changing, unpredictable, and "fluid", your grief is right on track. Surrender to it, and let the grief take you where you need to go. Your grief is wiser than you.This active grieving stage, suffering, lasts for months, and even intermittently for years. It is a normal and necessary part of grieving, and it is important not to avoid it, delay it, ignore it or suppress it. To the contrary, it is important that you experience it fully and express it openly in your own way.



  • New grief stages...Many, but not all, who grieve start to see some improvement in their emotions after a year has passed. Acceptance and full recovery don't happen overnight. Your depression and despair will just slowly start to turn a corner and lighten up for you. This stage is not the end of pain, but the ability to function with it and reconnect to the interesting and happy parts of life. Your great hurt will never be forgotten... it just recedes into the background of your life. Other more immediate demands will start to take precedence. Your son's soccer game will take on some importance for you once again. 

  • And you may see ONE benefit from your grief experience... a new appreciation for the preciousness of life and a new-found ability to live life in the moment.




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One 2 One Therapeutic Support is an international organization, offering help to clients worldwide through online sessions and also personally at our physical location in Cape Town, South Africa. All qualifications are under the auspices of the MHCPC (Manor House Centre for Psychotherapy and Counseling) and the BACP (British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy) in The United Kingdom and Great Britain. MHCPC UK registration no. 1131804.

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