What is normal grief?

The stage theory of grief (disbelief, yearning, anger, depression and acceptance) has become well-known… The Yale Bereavement Study examined stage theory grief indicators within 24 months following the death.

Disbelief was not the initial, dominant grief indicator, the researchers found.

Yearning was the dominant negative grief indicator from one to 24 months postloss.

Disbelief decreased from an initial high at one month postloss,
yearning peaked at four months postloss,
anger peaked at five months postloss,
and depression peaked at six months postloss.

The authors add, “acceptance increased steadily through the study observation period ending at 24 months postloss.”

Persistence of these negative emotions reflects a more difficult than average adjustment for the bereaved survivor, a potential referral for treatment.