The Five Aspects, Not Stages, of Grief

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Meet Allegra Giannini, junior English major, who wrote this article about grief because it is a common, yet misunderstood, process.

Grieving is something human beings must encounter at some point in their lives. It is inevitable; however, it can be manageable. Rowan English major Allegra Giannini sits in the Glassboro Town Square.

There seem to be many misconceptions about grief. Often times people tend to think grieving is only applicable when someone dies, like a family member, friend or pet.

In reality, people grieve a variety of things all the time. Grief can be defined as the immense pain accompanied with loss — it does not always accompany death.  

The five stages of the grieving process are practically universally known. They are taught in school. “Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance” — that is the Kübler-Ross model introduced in the late 1960s. Since then, it has remained in textbooks and been regarded as accurate, but what if it isn’t per se? 

Sometimes it’s easy to apply those five stages, to have that formula. It can be easy for anyone to think, “I’m in the depression phase now, next will be acceptance in a few months.” It’d be nice if it worked like that.

Help Guide, a nonprofit mental health and wellness organization, published an article in June 2019 by Melinda Smith, Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal. In the article it states loud and clear, “You do not have to go through each stage in order to heal(Robinson, Smith, Segal, 2019). Grief can be a rollercoaster, with peaks and valleys. Some times can be easier than others, and that is perfectly common. It can be argued that while the five stages make sense, instead of stages, they are merely aspects. They can be a guideline for grief, but not set in stone. 

If it’s been years, months, weeks, days … even if it has been three seconds, there may often be an aching and heart-wrenching feeling, and it’s okay. The idea that grief is a linear process that will one day be over is simply not true, and that’s also okay. The worst thing a grieving person can do is push themselves into feeling better, it takes time. It takes introspection and guidance from peers, family and possibly professionals. 

Grief does not always accompany death. It accompanies loss — loss of a friendship, loss of a house, a car, etc. Whatever loss it may be, it is valid and real. The most important thing is that a grieving person takes the time to heal, however their individual process is. 

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Story by:
Allegra Giannini, junior English major, Wellness Center intern

Photography by:
Alyssa Bauer, senior public relations major

Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (2019, June 17). Coping with Grief and Loss. Retrieved from

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