Accepting Death: Working Through The 6 Stages of Grief

Accepting Death - 6 stages of grief

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6 stages of grief

Death is a difficult concept to process, and it can be especially hard when someone we love dies. Grief is the natural reaction to loss, and it can take time to work through all of the different stages. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, but accepting death is an important part of healing.

In this blog post, we will discuss the 6 stages of grief and how to work through them. We will also provide tips for coping with loss. Keep in mind that everyone experiences grief differently, so don’t be afraid to seek out professional help if you need it.

There is no wrong or right way to grieve, just do what works best for you. With time and patience, you will be able to overcome your grief and begin moving forward again.

Is Accepting Death Even Possible?

“Time heals all wounds.”

“It was their time to go.”

“They’re in a better place now.”

Do any of these sound familiar? These well-intentioned phrases often do more harm than good. They minimize the pain of loss and can make it difficult to move on. 

Accepting death is not the same thing as being okay with it. Accepting death means that you are able to acknowledge what happened without feeling guilty, angry or resentful about it. Acceptance is not easy and often takes time.

Research on grief and loss is still relatively new, yet there are some things that psychologists have agreed on. Accepting death comes with time, patience, and understanding the feelings you’re experiencing aren’t permanent. It also involves accepting the fact that things won’t be exactly as they were before your loved one died; it’s okay to adapt and move forward.

One of the most important parts of grieving is allowing yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling. Accepting death doesn’t mean suppressing your emotions and “putting on a happy face” all day long; it’s okay to cry, be angry, or simply sit quietly and reflect for a while.

So, the answer to the question, “is accepting death even possible?” is yes, it is possible. 

Accepting death is a process that takes time and patience, and with the right support, you will be able to move through the different stages of grief and eventually learn how to accept death in your own way.

Now that we’ve covered some background information about accepting death, let’s talk about the 6 stages of grief.

The 6 stages of grief

The 6 stages of grief are described as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and hope.

In 1969 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first proposed 5 stages of grief after interviewing patients who were dying of cancer. The original 5 stages are still commonly used even though the theory has been expanded and revised over the years.

In 1992, Dr. Kenneth J. Doka added hope to the stages of grief, recognizing that many people find it helpful to have something to look forward to after a loved one dies.

Each stage can be accompanied by a variety of emotions, and people often move back and forth between different stages. It’s important to remember that these are simply guidelines, and everyone experiences grief differently.

man grieving


What happens in the denial phase of grief?

Denial is an important part of the grieving process because it allows you to accept that your loved one has died. Accepting death isn’t about forgetting or pretending like someone didn’t die; instead, it’s understanding that their physical presence isn’t coming back and learning how to live without them.

In this stage, there are a lot of common symptoms such as disbelief, numbness, and shock. You may feel like you’re living in a dream or that this can’t be happening to you. Denial helps cushion the blow of the loss and allows you time to process what’s happened.

How long does denial last?

Denial is usually strongest in the early days after someone dies. It may last for a few days or even weeks, and it will usually fade as you continue to accept the loss and face reality.


What happens in the anger phase of grief?

Feeling angry is a normal and healthy response to loss. You may be angry with yourself, your loved one for dying, or even God. Many people report feeling abandoned in the anger phase; you might feel like your loved one died too soon and that there were things left unsaid between the two of you.

You’re not alone if you feel anger toward your loved one for dying; this is normal. Accepting that you’re angry isn’t easy, and it’s essential to your healing process.

How long does the anger phase of grief last?

This stage can be very intense and may even resurface throughout other stages of grief as well. The length varies from person to person – some people are angry for just a few days while others may remain in the anger phase for months.


What happens during the bargaining stage of grief?

In this stage, you might start to feel like there’s something you could have done differently – maybe you wish that you had spent more time with your loved one or tried harder to save them from dying. You may feel a sense of guilt for things you did or didn’t say during their life, and these feelings can become overwhelming very quickly if they’re ignored.

You might start to bargain with yourself or even God – “I’ll do anything if only this doesn’t happen” or “I’ll do (blank) if God gives me another chance.” The bargaining stage is all about making deals and trying to find a way out of the pain you’re feeling.

How long does the bargaining stage of grief last?

Bargaining can be an intense experience, yet it usually doesn’t last very long – somewhere between a few hours or a few days. You might not even realize that you’re in the bargaining stage until it’s over and done with.


What happens during the depression phase of grief?

The depression phase is often characterized by intense feelings of sadness and emptiness. You might feel a sense of loneliness without your loved one, or you may even be angry with yourself for still wanting them to come back after they’ve died.

The symptoms in the depression phase are similar to those experienced during denial; it’s common to experience disbelief, numbness, and shock once again as you realize your loved one isn’t coming back.

How long does the depression phase of grief last?

This stage can often last for a prolonged period of time, especially if it’s left untreated or ignored. Accepting that you’re feeling a sense of loss is important in moving on from this phase – some people remain in this stage for months or even years.


What happens during the acceptance stage of grief?

The acceptance stage is often seen as the “final” stage of grief, and it’s characterized by a newfound understanding that your loved one has died. You might find yourself talking about them more openly or feeling like you can finally start to move on with your life.

You’ll start to accept the reality of your loved one’s death and realize that you can’t change what happened. This doesn’t mean that you’ll stop feeling sad or miss them, but it does mean that you’re beginning to cope with their loss.

How long does the acceptance stage last?

This stage usually lasts for a few months or even years, but it’s important to note that some people never reach this stage of grief. Accepting death is different for everyone and you might even find yourself experiencing all 6 stages of grief again if there are additional losses in your life.


What happens during the hope stage of grief?

What happens during the hope stage of grief?

The hope stage is a time when you start to see the future in a new light. You might begin to plan for the future or think about ways to honor your loved one’s memory.

You’ll start to feel like life is still worth living and that there are things left to look forward to. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be in denial about your loss anymore, it does mean that you’re able to find a sense of happiness again.

How long does the hope stage last?

This stage can either be very short or very long – depending on how much time has passed since your loved one’s death and what else is happening in your life right now.

Tips for coping with grief

Tips for coping with loss and grief

  • Talk about how you feel with a friend or family member
    Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed by your grief – there’s no shame in asking for assistance.
  • Accepting death is different for everyone, so don’t compare yourself with others. Your feelings are valid and they’re not wrong just because someone else seems to handle their loss differently.
  • Accepting death can be challenging, even for those who work through the 6 stages of grief. If you feel like your grief is getting worse over time rather than improving, please reach out to a therapist at Makin Wellness – we’re here to help!
  • Accepting death doesn’t mean that all hope is lost or that you’ll never be happy again. There is life after death, and it can be just as beautiful as the life your loved one experienced.
  • Give yourself time to heal – don’t expect to bounce back from grief overnight. Grieving takes time, patience, and a lot of self-care.

Need someone to talk to about loss or grief?

Even after learning about the 6 stages of grief, accepting death may not feel like a reality. You may still find yourself stuck in the earlier stages, unable to move on or cope with your loss because you can’t accept what’s happened.

If you need someone to come alongside you and help you process your feelings from a loss, we’re here to listen and support you. Accepting death may not be easy – it’s the first step in learning how to live again after losing a loved one or someone close to you. 

Contact our team at Makin Wellness if you’re ready to get started on your healing journey.

Picture of Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Paul Varady

    I understand anger. But for me I don’t consider it stage. In fact I see it as a part of my life My anger is I’m mad about living I have pictures of my wife (died of 14 month battle with stage IV cancer 6-12/2022). I knew her death was imminent. But I honestly didn’t think it was possible for her to die) I was her scare giver and we were married 50 Years. Every time there is a song, tv show place visited and looking at one my 14 pictures around the house. I just don’t or can’t leave her
    You and your go author both add a sixth stage: Hope and Meaning for you and meaning for David Kessler. I’ve tried looking for hope and meaning But they just don’t seem to exist; except when I wake every morning with the hope she is there and it was all a dream
    I’ve had people say now I can start a new chapter in my life I guess in a way this is where meaning and hope play a part
    However, where does the stage of lost and lonely fit. Definitely “Hope or Meaning” don’t fit Perhaps I just don’t get it and I’m just in a state of limbo”

    1. Makinwellness

      Paul, I am incredibly sorry to hear about the loss of your wife. After 50 years of marriage, I can only imagine what a bond you both had together. I’m also sorry to hear that you are struggling to find hope. What you are feeling is very difficult and very normal. Since you are stuck in these feelings of loneliness and feel lost, it may be a good idea to reach out and talk to a therapist so you can process these feelings better, if you haven’t already. I would also like to emphasis that you may not feel hope today, but hope is still possible for you, and will come with time. I know, in the moment “(it) will come with time” doesn’t feel real or helpful. Just know that it is possible even if you don’t feel it today.

  2. Iris Smith

    I appreciate you noting that embracing death entails being able to recognize what occurred without harboring any regret or resentment. My friend’s mother’s death left her feeling down. I’ll advise her to seek out bereavement counseling so she can voluntarily acknowledge the situation.

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