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What are the seven stages of loss?

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Quick Answer

The seven stages of grief or loss are disbelief, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression and finally acceptance. The seven stages may happen over a brief period of time or span a longer period. Some people combine a few of the stages, such as bargaining and guilt.

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Full Answer

The first reaction to a loss, whether a death or the end of a relationship is typically shock and disbelief. This naturally segues into denial as a person tries to avoid dealing with or recognizing the reality of the loss. In the case of a relationship, an individual may attempt to salvage the relationship or look desperately for answers as to why it failed.

Anger usually follows the denial and disbelief phase. A person may ask why the event has happened or believe it to be unfair. Bargaining can be added to this, especially in terms of prayer. The guilt stage follows as the person begins to self-blame for what happened. This is a way for people to gain mental control over a situation that appears uncontrollable.

The second-to-last stage is depression, and this is often the longest stage for many people. The final stage is accepting the loss and moving on. Often coupled with acceptance is a renewed sense of hope that things will get better.

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