7 Stages of Grief and What to Expect   3 comments

Characters go through a lot of crap. Or at least they should. In order to help keep your characters acting the way they should, when they should, here is a list of the seven stages of grief.

Normally the grieving process can take quite awhile, but things are sped up when writing in order to give characters that popular happy ending. As always how you work the details is up to you.

  1. Shock and Denial – Expect numb disbelief and denial of reality. Usually nothing to dramatic, but the temporary sensation that the character is dreaming, or its a joke.
  2. Pain and Guilt – Expect emotional pain and remorse. Guilt about things such as: “I should have been there”, or “if only i had…”
  3. Anger and Bargaining – Expect anger and misplacing of blame. People usually ask “why did this happen to me?” or bargain with god.
  4. Depression and Loneliness – Expect a need for isolation and feelings of emptiness. Thoughts turn back to how things used to be.
  5. The Turn Around – Expect things to become slightly easier. A character should start to adjust to their new life and things begin to get a little calmer.
  6. Reconstruction – Expect less of a need for isolation and more happy thoughts. A character is “normal” more often than not, but still prone to thoughtful moods.
  7. Acceptance and Hope – Expect a character to be able to accept and deal with normal reality, and be able to find joy in the everyday things that they used to.

3 responses to “7 Stages of Grief and What to Expect

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  1. Pingback: Grieving God’s way by Margaret Brownley | Professional Book Reviews

  2. It’s nice to know that we go through such stages of grief.

    • I’ve just read the Time article to get a smraumy of the author’s thinking. As a clergyperson for almost 30 years, I’ve seen a number of people live through loss and grief in a variety of ways, and have done so myself. I have found that people often experience the feelings that Kubler-Ross’s identified (as well as others), but it is been clear to me for many years that we do not expereince those feelings in systematic stages, but rather in unpredictable roller-coaster fashion not unlike the oscillating graph shown on this site. My own (admittedly anectodatal) take on grief is that the plethora of intense feelings we typically have for some period of time are the psyche’s way of honoring the importance to us of the person (or job or marriage or ) that have been lost. Once we have done that to the degree each needs, we are ready to move on in our lives. What I continue to observe is that while the varieties of approaches to grief process described and debunked in the Time article are widespread in the culture, it is also the case that in practical terms our culture often leaves little space and time for grieving. People are routinely expected to be able to return to normal functioing, especially in the work world, within a week or two of a major loss as if nothing significant had happened. There seems to be a disconnect between the possibly over-developed psychological approach to the inner work of grief and an under-developed acknowledgement in the public world of the functional challenges that people in the early, intense time of grieving often face.

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