The Stages of Grief

A deep breakdown of the different stages of grief and how it affects the mind.

by Casey Hall / Garnet & Black

The Stages of Grief 


Grief sucks. Yes, it's terrible. It's heart-wrenching. When you lose a loved one, it doesn’t seem real. Everything seems like a fantasy. Everything seems like a nightmare. Yet, it's not a nightmare. It's not a vision. It's not made up in our heads. It's real. Grief is a hole in your heart and it only gets bigger the more loved ones you lose. 

So, when does grief end? When will the pain go away? Unfortunately, grief never goes away. It's like a scar that will always stay. Most people know the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Yet, many do not realize that grief does not have a specific order. Someone can start with anger and go into depression, while another can go from depression to anger. Grief is not linear.  

To gain a deeper understanding of grief, one must understand these different stages. Here are the following stages written in poetry format.



"Denial" - Claire Ellis

I still expect that you'll be there, 

in the kitchen and the early morning light,

your mug clinging to a tea bag bleeding honeyed saffron

into hot water like a cloud of clay dust.

I expect you'll be stirring up a whirlpool, spoon a chime, clinks

in time with the jazz disc twirling in the Bush-era relic sat

between the cookbooks and the magazine stack. 

And you'll be humming, scuffling between the stove and the

sink, in the robe that wafts your incense around the house

throughout this morning ritual like a blessing.

You'll act surprised when I wake, though you've been waiting.

You will have been waiting. You always do.

And you'll be there in the noon sun too, slicing bell peppers into

unsure smiles to Norah Jones crooning that she's just sittin'

here, waiting for you to come on home.

You'll already be there, flitting from counter to counter, 

your wedding rings perched on the sink ledge, soapy,

to the home phone on the wall with the sticky note collage

of calls and reminders. You'll be there to pick up if it rings.

With the answer, like always, you’ll be there: you must.

And you'll be there at dinner, at nightcap, at dusk,

date heels a quick percussion across the hardwood floor.

You'll be there with remnants of lipstick, still enough to

swak a cheek and a thumb still enough to wipe it clean.

You'll be there with a story, laugh lines still forming

at the corners of our eyes like river deltas etched in the land

to lead these tears back to sea. Yes,

you'll be there, in the kitchen at home, at the helm of the ship

you said again and again and again I could always come back to.

When I come back, you'll be there. 

You’ll be there.



"the ghost without an owner" - Alex Ruz

I stood alone at the post office today. 

In my hands is a letter full of the things I 

wish I could have said to you that night. 

That night when I held your hands until

mine turned white, that night when your 

favorite song came on and all I heard was 

your voice, singing along. 

It echoed throughout the empty house,

like ghosts reminding me of what I 

have lost. They linger on my

shoulders as if they were a weight I need

to bear for the rest of my life.

But, I’ve forgotten what your voice sounds like. 

The ghosts are trapped without a host, wishing to

belong but they have nowhere to go. The words

they speak are so loud that they deafen my ears.

They cry for you to come back, to be here, to

wake up so I could stop trying to find a 

reason to keep them alive because without

you they are nothing but people with sheets over them,

dancing to a song that died.

I started smoking because somehow, it brings

me closer to you. It makes me realize that 

the worst parts of you became a part of me. 

My mother looks at me and sees you, she sees

the ghosts in the form of a 21-year-old and I 

wish I could scream at you. 

You should’ve fought harder, you shouldn’t

have left me to fight this on my own. I want 

to rip the sheets apart, tune out their songs

and I’ve never prayed once but for you I did. 

I cry myself to sleep every night and the only

things that hold me are what you left me with. 

A ghost that I can barely remember. 

You’ll never know who I am. 

The person you left behind was a girl 

with a sparkle in her eyes that was ripped

away too soon. She had the world in her hands

and she would have lived this life next to you.

And maybe, the point of all this was to avoid 

seeing what she would become.

The worst version of you. 

So, I stood at the post office today. 

And as I stand there, with shaky hands,

the ghosts look over my shoulders at the 

letter I want to send to you. 

There’s nothing written down, only an 

address without a name on it. 

What was your name?


"Dwelling on Your Floor" - Kendall Vorhis

I kneel at the foot of your bed, my knees 

turning blue as I ponder where to begin.

My mind wanders down a dirt path, kicking

stones into the grass until I find a seat in the 

sandbox next to the old softball fields.

You introduced me and God when I was a kid after 

Grandpa died. You told me to play nice, but 

time and time again He trampled my castles and 

kicked sand into my eyes. 

When I asked Him, “Why all of this pain?” 

all gritty with my runny nose,

He dug His heel into my toes and told me that 

those were the rules of the playground.

We haven’t talked much since.

I clutch your Bible, gazing up at the milky galaxy of

of our popcorn ceilings. The flimsy pages had collected

dust long before you joined the saints and the 

angels warring throughout them, and

even though you’d given up on the verses you still

insisted on keeping it. 

My Crayola scribbles line its spine and inner cover --

Illegible, babbling hymns of my own creation written

in waxy greens and pinks. Children don’t really

understand the sanctity of such a text, but you

worshiped my drawings all the same. 

You hung them in picture frames by your desk at 

work like altars and prayed to them -- prayed that 

I’d never stop running to the front door when I heard 

the jingle of your keys at the end of the day.

I shift my weight on the hardwood floor, tracing

the faded crayon. Though it’s only God and I in

your room, his smug presence itching the back of

my neck like windblown sand, a

crescendo begins to build, filling the cavity as the

walls collapse and my eardrums burst with embers

and flames. 

I finally turn to face Him, 

blood and smoke billowing out of my ears, and 

I beg for a moment of quiet. 

Maybe if you hadn’t been so proud, or 

maybe if I hadn’t been so afraid to 

knock your guard down -- maybe we both 

would have understood you more. 

Maybe if we had more time, or maybe if

we could go back to sandboxes and Crayola

and do it all over again, do it right.

What if God decided to break some rules?

What if I never stopped waiting for you to

come home? What if you never lost faith?

I still have faith that you’ll come home.

Maybe if you hadn’t drunk so much. 

Maybe if I had been a better daughter.

Maybe if you had a different doctor.

Maybe if I had been a better daughter.

God, please, just a moment. 


 "Depression" - Faith Fulmer 


  Depression today was a regular day,                                                                                                 
 just as any other day.                                                                                                                     
 I got out of my bed                                                                                                                        
 without a word unsaid.


  Before I see the world,                                                                                                                                     
 I put on my new face,                                                                                                                             
 on my tongue a metal taste,                                                                                                                 
 my heart a steady pace.                                                                                                                     

 And yet I feel unwhole,                                                                                                             
something gripping on my soul.                                                                                                          
Its fingers blue from cold                                                                                                                      
to the touch, I unfold.                                                                                                                  

  Starring at the door,                                                                                                                                      
 I reach for the handle, a cure                                                                                                                 
of this sickness I endure,                                                                                                                     
and yet my arm is limp.                                                                                                                     

 Today was a regular day.                                                                                                                      
Just as any other day,                                                                                                                                  
I crawl back into bed                                                                                                                               
my spirit gone and dead.



"Acceptance" - Maryah Nasir

You finally reached out of the hole of despair.

You finally won the game of solitaire.

There seems to be an ending to the hopelessness.

And you finally win the battle against yourself.

Now you shine bright like the sun.

But not too bright to cause you to burn.

You finally accept the price.

So you buy the dice.

There will still be pain.

There will still be rain.

But you finally accepted to say goodbye,

because one day you see will them again.