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Death is an unfortunate part of life. It is common knowledge that our loved ones will pass away with the passage of time, but it does not make their death any easier to process when it finally does happen. Often, when a death does occur, it is not uncommon for someone to undergo the five stages of grief.

You may even have heard of this model. However, what does each stage signify? And how can a person get past them to finally overcome their grief? Let us break down the various stages, and what they represent so you can gain a better understanding of this framework. Hopefully, by familiarising yourself with the process, you can better cope with the complicated emotions you are feeling when a death occurs.

The five different stages of grief

In an attempt to paint a better picture of the grieving process, a Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kübler-Ross theorised that the pain of losing a loved one might stimulate five different emotions in a person – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

When an unfortunate reality happens right before a person’s eyes, denying it is almost always going to be their initial reaction. After all, most people don’t do well when they receive bad news, especially if it is sudden and unexpected. However, as reality starts to set in, denial soon takes the form of anger. This is the stage of grief where people in mourning begin to comprehend what they have previously kept denying. Frustrated at what they are feeling, people usually want to take matters into their own hands because they simply cannot come to terms with the reality that occurred just yet.

Once they realised they can’t do anything about this unavoidable reality, anger  shifts to bargaining as desperation becomes the overriding feeling. When someone is at this point in the grieving process, they would often ponder, “what if?” They are willing to do anything for an alternate turn of events at this stage, going so far as to wonder if they could switch places with the deceased. However, questions of “what if” and “if only” can only go so far, and bargaining soon turns to depression as the person continues to overthink the various hypothetical scenarios.

Depression is the second to last phase of the grieving process. The person in mourning will arrive at this stage once they realise there is nothing they can do to change their present circumstances. If there is a stage where the grief is most overwhelming, this is arguably it. Getting past this stage can be the most challenging since it takes acceptance to overcome depression. Only when a person begins to accept the truth, regardless of how hard it is, can they start to heal from their pain.

How to get past all of the grieving stages

While the various emotions cited by the Kübler-Ross‘ model are often displayed by a person in mourning, it is vital to note that it is still a theory. There are various ways a person can grieve the loss of a loved one, as well as different ways to begin their healing journey. However, the steps to get past grief is often similar.

Losing someone dear to you will undoubtedly cause pain that is seemingly difficult to bounce back from. If you want to move past your grief, it will help to surround yourself with your family and friends. Doing so will help keep your mind off of things and bring you the consolation that you need.

Additionally, it is imperative for you to acknowledge and accept that there is nothing you can do to reverse what has already occurred. Acknowledging someone’s passing does not mean you need to pretend you are fine right there and then. Instead, it means that you are now more aware of your emotions and what is causing them. The more emotional awareness you possess, the quicker you can begin your healing journey.

Sometimes, helping with the arrangement of a funeral can even be a cathartic experience. Whether your loved one wishes to have a Taoist funeral or a Buddhist funeral service, ensuring their wishes are respected can be emotionally fulfilling. You may even want to consider writing a eulogy to express your love for the deceased. Doing so can help you keep yourself occupied while simultaneously keeping yourself aware of everything that is going on.


Understanding the various stages of grief and what they represent can sometimes be liberating for a person. This is because it gives them a roadmap to comprehend the complicated emotions they are feeling.

However, the most important thing to note is that no one should grieve alone. Surround yourself with your friends and family who can help you move through these difficult stages. You might also want to consider seeking professional help and attending therapy sessions if the grief persists.

Likewise, when it comes to planning the funeral of your loved one, you should consider seeking the help of a trusted funeral company, especially if you find yourself struggling to cope with all the preparations needed to arrange a funeral. At 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services, our team understands the challenges you face during this difficult time. As such, we aim to provide you with peace of mind by ensuring the arrangements are tailored to your specific needs.