Early theories of grief suggested that we go through different stages, in sequence, until we finally ‘get over’ the loss.

In the early theories of grief diagram a straight line with arrows pointing in one direction shows how it was thought that we moved between these stages:

  • loss
  • shock
  • numbness
  • denial
  • overwhelming sadness
  • helplessness
  • confusion
  • anger
  • panic
  • feeling low
  • loneliness
  • stress
  • continuing with everyday tasks
  • having difficulties re-adjusting
  • taking on tasks from the person who died
  • doing some social activities again
  • forming new friendships
  • re-investing in life
  • acceptance

Our ideas about the grieving process have now changed.

The reality is shown in a second diagram where the straight line has been replaced by a very squiggly line drawn up and down between the different stages. Life is often much more messy and complicated than was suggested in the earlier grief model. You are likely to have many ups and downs, good days and bad as you start to adjust to your loss.