In 1969, the five primary stages of grief were described by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. These stages included Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

It’s important to note that Kubler-Ross states these stages are not necessarily linear nor applicable to every person dealing with grief, however it remains a helpful guide to prepare those in the midst of this difficult life stage. In the RFS Aged Care office, we support countless families through the grief cycle after losing loved ones, as well as individuals who have received a terminal medical diagnosis and are dealing with the grief of this difficult news.

  • Denial

This is often considered a human survival function to assist in coping with the initial blow of a loss. The numbness you may experience in this first stage is perfectly normal and is preparing you for the stages to come.

  • Anger

This occurs when the ‘numbness’ fades and reality sets in, and is commonly understood as the ‘life’s not fair’ stage. Health professionals and researchers alike all agree that this is a necessary stage of grief and the healing process, so it is important to embrace these feelings and allow your grief to flow naturally. Remember, those around you should understand and support you in this difficult phase.

  • Bargaining

The ‘What If’ stage…this is a time where those experiencing grief often question choices that may have lead to a different outcome. This phase is understandably difficult, but it’s very important to avoid directing blame onto yourself. Try to accept the inevitable process of death and instead nurture your healing process.

  • Depression

This stage is a widely accepted part of the Kubler-Ross grief cycle and easily identifiable. Common symptoms include continued feelings of ‘numbness’, brain fog, lethargy or unwillingness to get out of bed. Whilst this is a perfectly acceptable stage to go through temporarily, ensure you seek help from a professional if you feel your depression is prolonged.

  • Acceptance

You’re going to be OK. This is the stage where you feel it is acceptable to move on with life.  This doesn’t mean you need to forget or replace your loved one, but simply find a new ‘normal’ and confidently leave the grieving period behind. Find nice ways to remember your passed loved one and the wonderful memories they have left you with. Take care of yourself and be proud you have come through all the stages of the grief cycle. You now have the opportunity to move forward with fond memories to keep forever.


  • crying
  • anxiety
  • lethargy
  • headaches
  • temporary isolation
  • mood swings
  • frustration
  • temporary loss of appetite
  • increased susceptibility to stress

The staff at RFS Aged Care are always available to talk and show support in any way possible when a client or client’s family member passes away. Support during these difficult life stages are part of a holistic planning experience. If this is you, and you would like to chat about what to expect over the coming months, feel free to call or schedule and appointment. Additionally, if you are experiencing symptoms such as depression and ill health during the grieving period that you believe are particularly severe, ensure you seek help from a medical professional.


Kübler-Ross, E. (2009). Death. Simon and Schuster.