The 5 Stages of Grief

The 5 Stages of Grief - Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and Acceptance - were first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross to describe a process which many people go through when dealing with a significant tragedy or loss.

The 5 Stages of Grief are:

  1. Denial
  2. Bargaining
  3. Anger
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Most Non-Personality-Disordered Individuals go through our own version of the 5 stages of grief as we come to terms with the reality that we are dealing with someone in our home who suffers from a significant mental illness and whose personality disorder brings long term struggles and difficult choices that we have to face. In a way, we face a death - death of the dream of coming from a "normal" home and the expectation of being loved the way we deserve by those closest to us.

Examples of Denial Statements:

  • It's not that bad. Most of the time we're really happy.
  • She's rough on me but she really cares about the kids
  • I feel like I have a connection with her like no other.
  • She's had a hard life.
  • She's been working hard on our marriage lately

Examples of Anger Statements:

  • You psycho bitch! 
  • You only care about yourself!
  • You'll be sorry someday.

Examples of Bargaining Statements:

  • If you don't keep to our agreement I'm going to divorce you.
  • I came home early from work every day last week. How can you say I don't care?
  • I forgave you when you hit me!
  • I love you (thinking - please don't hurt me)

Examples of Depression Statements:

  • Maybe she's right
  • I could never leave, my life would be ruined
  • I have to stay for the sake of the kids.
  • At least I have a good job.

Examples of Acceptance Statements:

  • I still love you. I'm leaving because I don't want these fights to continue.
  • I know I've made mistakes too. I'm sorry for that.
  • I wish her well and hope the best for her.
  • There were some things I still like about him, there were some things that scared me.
  • I'm not happy I'm divorced, but I'm glad I went through with it.

Learning to Cope with Grief:

Grief is a consequence of loss and much as we want to we often find that we can't go over it, can't go under it, can't go around it and have to go through it.


It's OK to mourn. Think about the way it should have been, could have been, might have been. Imagine your life if the abuser in your life had had a healthy mind, a sense of responsibility, a conscientious kind heart. Write it down. What dreams did you sacrifice? What pain did you swallow? Mourning is the time to cry. And when you are done, if you want to, cry again.

Rant about it. Talk to a safe group of friends about it. Tell somebody what happened. Get it off your chest. Why was it wrong? What happened? How in the world did you put up with that for so long? Take a load off! Tell someone your story.

There are lots of people here at Out of the FOG who have been there, who are still there - who are trying to find the courage to say: "I hurt!", "That was wrong!", "It didn't have to be that way!", "I deserve better!" Somehow we feel stronger when we hear from others who have faced or are facing the same struggles as ourselves.


Read more on processing anger here

What NOT to do:

  • Don't be ashamed of your grief. It is something that makes us all very human.
  • Don't be ashamed to admit your grief to others or to seek assistance.
  • Don't believe that you will always feel this way. The only thing that stays constant is change.
  • Don't isolate yourself or cut yourself off from people who really care about you.
  • Don't pressure yourself to snap out of it. Celebrate who you really are.

What TO do:

  • Remember that the person you are today is no less valuable than the person you were on your greatest day.
  • Remember that grief is a process which takes time.
  • Be good to yourself - give yourself something every day that you will look forward to.
  • Get help and support from people who understand what you are going through and who care about you.