Acceptance - Five Stages of Grief
Finding acceptance following a devastating loss is not an easy or quick process. But eventually, you find your way to a place where you can both acknowledge that the loss has happened and adapt to that change. Acceptance is considered the final phase in the Five Stages of Grief model designed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the seminal work “On Death and Dying.” With co-author David Kessler, the five stages of grief model offers insight into the grieving process. This final acceptance stage brings an understanding of the new reality and may illuminate a way to grow forward out of grief. Titan Casket offers this overview of the acceptance stage of grief and its role in the grief journey.
Table of Contents
- What is the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
- What Occurs During the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
- What Occurs Before the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
- Can You Remain in the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
What is the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
The acceptance stage of grief is the final step in the Five Stages of Grief model. While it should not be equated with someone being content with loss, it is a less tumultuous, more peaceful period. A person in this stage has accepted the fact of a death, a terminal diagnosis, or the loss of a relationship and understands what life will mean going forward. It does not mean that the bereaved is saying that a loved one can be replaced or that they don’t wish circumstances were different. Instead, it signifies that they acknowledge the death, loss of a job, or the end of a relationship and that they will be okay as they grow and adapt to their new world.
What Occurs During the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
There is often confusion when discussing the acceptance stage of grief. It does not mean that grief is over or that you will not experience difficult and emotional days. However, it tends to indicate that there will be more good days than bad ones and that emotions may appear more stable. The bereaved will have adjusted to their new reality. Those going through the acceptance stage may find themselves re-engaging with friends and family. They may be more focused at work, find more enjoyment in hobbies, and feel less sluggish. They may be ready to try new pursuits. In the case of a terminal illness, the patient may feel prepared to focus on getting their affairs in order, saying goodbyes, and preplanning their funeral or other end-of-life celebrations. Acceptance can still be an intense stage with mood swings, but, generally, the constant waves of emotions give way to something predictable. The feeling of loss will not go away, but you will be better able to adapt and carry on.
What Occurs Before the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
The depression stage of grief will often come before acceptance. The difficult weight of the loss may bring a profound sense of sadness, brain fog, lethargy, and even physical pain. However, there is no guarantee that acceptance will immediately follow this stage. The bereaved may instead cycle back to anger or one of the other stages before coming to accept and adjust to their new reality.
Can You Remain in the Acceptance Stage of Grief?
Yes. Although the acceptance stage is not just one emotional state, and grief is rarely orderly. Each day may find you coping differently. Some days will be better. Others will be more challenging. Fear, anxiety, loneliness, and sadness may all come even though you have accepted your loss. That’s normal, and, overall, your emotional state will continue to stabilize during day-to-day life. Although special events (birthdays, holidays, and family events) may trigger additional feelings of grief, those in the acceptance stage can acknowledge the event, recognize the changed circumstances, and move forward. Memories may be easier to embrace and discuss. And you may feel ready to celebrate the life lost rather than solely feeling their absence.
The information provided above is not meant to replace expert medical or mental health advice. If you or someone you love is having difficulty coping with loss, please reach out to a qualified mental health professional.
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