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What is Grief and Coping with Loss

Coping with loss is perhaps the most painful event we will ever experience. It's normal to feel caught up in a whirlwind of strong emotions. Sadness one day, anger the next. It can feel overwhelming, but it is part of the normal grieving process.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your reaction to grief is truly a personal experience. Try to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come up for you. If you need to cry, then cry. If you are angry, then be angry. Experiencing these emotions will help you work through the sense of loss and will ultimately help you heal.

One of the best things you can do is express how you're feeling. It helps to talk to someone who has experienced what you are going through. (Of course, no two deaths are the same.) Open to Hope Foundation can help you connect with people who have experienced similar types of loss and grieving. Or you might consider joining a support group for the understanding and help you need.

What is Grief?

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's ground-breaking 1969 book, On Death and Dying, introduced five stages people experience while coping and dealing with grief and tragedy. Her work was originally focused on people diagnosed with terminal illness and the loss they feel coming to terms with their own death.

While some academics have developed their own variation of the grief stages, the Kübler-Ross model is still the most widely recognized. The stages are:

  • Denial: The person refuses to accept facts, information, reality relating to the situation. This is a natural defense mechanism.
  • Anger: The person feels angry with himself or herself, those nearby or the person who died.
  • Bargaining: Negotiating with whatever God the person believes in.
  • Depression: Sadness, regret, fear and beginning of acceptance of the reality.
  • Acceptance: General emotional detachment and objectivity of the reality of the situation.

Kübler-Ross's stages are not linear - one can experience them in any order or perhaps go through two or three stages at one time.

Coping With Loss

For more on coping with your grief, see Finding Support . If you are a friend looking for ways to help someone who is grieving, see How to Be Supportive

There are some excellent books on grief that might also help. See Books on Grief .

Grief And Holidays

For more on coping with your grief during holidays and special events, click here.

Other Resources

Grief at Work A collection of grief resources for the workplace from the American Hospice Organization

Grieving Children A collection of articles and stories for (and about) grieving children of all ages from the American Hospice Organization


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