Stages of Healthy Grieving

As the title suggests, there are stages of healthy grieving, and there are also unhealthy ways to grieve. These stages are from June Hunt.

What Are the Stages of Healthy Grieving?

“I need to get my act together. I’ve got to snap out of this.”

These thoughts reveal unrealistic expectations about grieving and a failure to understand the grief process and the slow journey of restoration. While stages of grief do exist, they may be experienced with varying degrees of intensity. Some stages may also be missed, and some stages may be repeated. Give yourself permission to unpredictably experience the stages of grieving as you trust God to bring new life again.

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up” (Psalm 71:20)

Crisis Stage: This can last from two days to two weeks. In this stage of grief, you carry out your daily activities in a mechanical manner. Characteristics include:

  1. Anxiety/fear
  2. Denial
  3. Appetite/sleep loss
  4. Disturbing dreams
  5. Limited concentration
  6. Shock/numbness
  7. Confusion
  8. Uncontrollable crying

Crucible Stage: This can last up to a year or two or more, perhaps even until death if grief is not resolved. Characteristics include:

  1. Anger/resentment
  2. Loneliness/isolation
  3. Anguish
  4. Self-pity
  5. Bargaining with God
  6. Intense yearning
  7. Depression/sadness
  8. Guilt/false guilt

Contentment Stage: This stage accepts the loss, leaving it in the past. This stage not only accepts that the present offers stability, but also accepts that the future offers new and promising hope (Philippians 3:13; 4:11). Characteristics include:

  1. Greater compassion toward others
  2. Greater acceptance of others
  3. Greater humility before others
  4. Greater dependence on the Lord
  5. New ability to leave loss behind
  6. New patterns for living
  7. New hope for the future
  8. New contentment in all circumstances

Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Grief Recovery: Living at Peace with Loss. Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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