stages of grief, 4 tasks of mourning

by Sally Hunt ... experienced Grief Therapist

Four Stages of Grief and Four tasks of Mourning

Four phases of grief model

British psychologists Bowlby and Parkes were the first to propose the Four Stages of Grief model. Today it is far more common to find this in US theory rather than Europe. In Europe the five stages is most widely used. I tend to use the five stages of grief referred to by Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler.

Grief is a process that can take a few months of many years. The grieving process does not naturally follow any specific order, you may go through stages in different sequences.

I will help you understand where you are in the process – but the important part of grief counselling is to recognise the pains as being normal and help you understand your emotions.

The four stages of grief

Shock and Numbness

This phase is the immediate reaction to loss and death. In order to survive the initial shock of the loss the grieving person feels numb and lost. 

Yearning and Searching

This is characterised by a desire to be reunited with the loved one. You may experience sadness, longing or loneliness.

Disorganisation and Despair

This is characterised by a feeling of loss and despair. You may feel hopeless, withdrawn, and unmotivated.

Reorganisation and Recovery

Finally you begin to adjust to your new reality without the loved one. You will probably still experience sadness and loss, but you are able to function in you daily life and gradually find new meaning and purpose.

The Four Tasks of Mourning

Another of the theories available is the four tasks of mourning. Similar to the 4 stages of grief these are US orientated.

These were identified by psychologist J. William Worden, in the 1960’s in the USA.

  • Accepting: Accepting the reality of the Loss.
  • Acknowledging: To process your grief and pain.
  • Adjusting: To adjust to a world without your loved one.
  • Reinventing: To find a way to maintain a connection with the deceased while embarking on your new life.

All these stages are identifiable. What is important is some recognition by yourself. This is where I will help you.  I do not believe you move sequentially between the phases. What is important is the understanding and how you appreciate your progress.

Grieving is unique to everyone. You will grieve in their own way and your own speed. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You need to be patient with yourself. I know that can be difficult. 

Perhaps you need to reach out for support and explanations of what you are going through.  I am here to help.

Recent articles