Grief is an inevitable part of human existence, often triggered by the loss of a loved one, a significant life change, or the end of something deeply meaningful. Understanding and managing grief can be extremely challenging, but psychological frameworks like the Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief can offer valuable insights and coping mechanisms.

What Are the Five Stages of Grief?

First introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying," the Five Stages of Grief are a series of emotional phases that many people go through when dealing with loss. It’s important to note that these stages are not necessarily experienced linearly or universally but can provide a useful framework for understanding our emotional responses.

1. Denial

Denial is the first stage in which individuals may refuse to accept the reality of their loss. This can be a defense mechanism to help buffer the immediate shock of the event.

E.g. When Jane's father passed away suddenly, she found herself repeatedly checking her phone, expecting a call or message from him, despite knowing he was gone. She would set a dinner plate for him, acting as though he was simply away on a trip.

2. Anger

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As the masking effects of denial begin to wear off, anger can set in. This stage involves intense emotional expression, which can be directed at oneself, others, or even at the person who has been lost.

E.g. After losing his job, Mark became irritable and snapped at his family for minor things. He felt a deep sense of injustice and frequently blamed his former employer, colleagues, and even himself for not seeing it coming.

3. Bargaining

In the bargaining stage, individuals may dwell on what they could have done differently to prevent the loss. They often make 'deals' with a higher power, hoping for a different outcome.

E.g. Sarah, who recently ended a long-term relationship, found herself constantly thinking, "If only I had been more understanding, then maybe we could have worked it out." She prayed and promised to change, hoping for a chance to reconcile.

4. Depression

This stage is marked by deep sadness, regret, and a sense of hopelessness. It is a necessary step in the healing process as the individual starts to come to terms with the loss.

E.g. After losing her beloved pet of 15 years, Rachel felt an overwhelming sadness. She withdrew from social activities and had difficulty finding joy in her daily routine. Every corner of her home felt empty without her pet’s presence.

5. Acceptance

Be greatful
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Acceptance does not mean being "okay" with the loss, but rather coming to terms with it. This stage involves reorganizing your life and finding ways to move forward.

E.g. After months of grieving the loss of his wife, John slowly started to find peace. He began to create new daily routines, joined a support group, and started volunteering—activities his wife had been passionate about. Though he still missed her deeply, he found a way to honor her memory and move forward.

How Journaling Can Help to Manage Your Grief Process

Journaling is a therapeutic activity that allows you to explore and express your emotions in a safe space. By documenting your thoughts and feelings, you can gain valuable insights into your grieving process. To guide you through this journey, I’ve created a simple journal template that aligns with the Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief.

Suggested Journal Template and Prompts

The suggested journal template below is designed to help you navigate through the Five Stages of Grief as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Use the journal prompts below to reflect on your journey and emotional state.

Grief Journal


What aspects of my loss am I finding hardest to accept?

What is making me feel most angry right now?

What “if only” or “what if” thoughts am I having?

How deep is my sadness today and what specific things contribute to it?

How am I beginning to come to terms with the loss and what positive memories or lessons can I take from this experience?

Grieving is a highly individual and non-linear process. You may find yourself oscillating between different stages, and that is completely normal. The Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief offer a useful framework for understanding your emotions, but everyone’s journey is unique.

By using the journal template provided, you can actively engage in your healing process, gaining insights and emotional clarity over time. It's okay to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional if you find yourself struggling.

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences. How have you navigated through your own stages of grief? What strategies have been most helpful for you?