How to handle your grief when a loved one passes away

We all need to go through the grieving process when a loved one passes away

WHEN a loved one passes away, people handle their grief in different ways, but we all need to go through the grieving process.

Experts speak of different stages in handling the grieving process, normally five, although others identify seven or even 12 stages of grieving for a loved one. Let’s take a closer look at what the five most commonly quoted stages are and how to handle your grief.

The five stages of the grieving process

The pain when you lose a loved one can be unbearable and you may ask yourself if it will ever end. Getting through it is complicated and a theory by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identifies five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.


According to this theory on how to handle your grief, denial helps to minimise the emotional pain. It can be hard to believe that someone you have recently seen or spoken to is gone forever and it takes the mind some time to adjust. It is normal at this time to remember the moments you have shared with the person and wonder how you will do without them. This stage of denial simply prevents you from becoming overwhelmed by all these thoughts and memories.


The second stage is anger. This is, once again, because there are so many feelings to process while trying to adjust to the new reality in your life that anger is simply an outlet for these emotions. You may feel scared and not want to admit it because you fear being judged, and instead react angrily towards others.


You may feel so desperate when you are coping with the loss of a loved one that you would do anything to minimise the pain. You may direct promises to a higher power, such as promising to be a better person to avoid losing the person who has left you. However, this will lead to the realisation that you are only human and nothing can be done to reverse the situation and this in turn makes you feel helpless. This may cause you to “act out” in protest, or look back over what you regret in your life, especially the actions which may have caused pain to the deceased. You may wish you could go back and do it differently but you shouldn’t think that had you acted differently you would be feeling less pain.


Once your mind calms down and you start to face the reality that your loved one is not coming back, you will feel the loss more clearly and this can lead to sadness and depression. You may isolate yourself from others and reject help.


Once you accept the new reality, you will continue to feel the pain and sadness of your loss but you will no longer try to change it. Anger, bargaining and denial are no longer so common.

Everyone grieves differently

You should know that everyone grieves differently and that you won’t necessarily experience all of these stages or in this order. You should also know that there is no set time frame for each of the stages or for the whole grieving process. For some people it could take weeks while for others it could be a matter of years. In either case, it’s perfectly normal. You may also feel at some point that you have moved back into a stage that you thought you have overcome. This is also normal as your pain and the way you process the loss is unique to you. No-one can tell you how to handle your grief or how long it should take.

How to help someone who is grieving

If someone close to you is grieving over the loss of a loved one, it is often hard to know what to say and you may think that whatever you do, it won’t be adequate or helpful.

Here are some tips to help others deal with the loss of a loved one.

  • What you may think is an uplifting comment is probably not helpful, and neither is humour. Your intentions may be good, but it can make the person feel that their pain is not valid.
  • Don’t make them talk about how they feel if they don’t want to.
  • Don’t get upset if they push you away. Give them space, but make sure they know you’re there if they need you.

Pre-paid funeral plan

Having a pre-paid funeral plan with Golden Leaves Funeral Plans Spain will mean that your loved ones have fewer difficult situations to deal with when you pass away and they are grieving. Your funeral will be arranged in advance according to your requirements, paid for, and with one simple call your plan will be put into action by the caring and tactful team at Golden Leaves, meaning your family will not have to deal with red tape in a foreign language at such a difficult time.

To find out more about Golden Leaves Funeral Plans and how they can meet your needs, visit their website or contact them.[email protected]
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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.