Understanding the stages of grief

For decades, the women of Mareena Purslowe Funerals have been guiding families through the loss of a loved one. In our experience, no two people move through their grief the same way. 

There is no right or wrong response to grief. It affects us all differently.

But with us by your side, you’ll have someone to lean on when things feel too heavy. We’ll guide you and your family through grief with compassion and strength. And in time, you’ll begin to heal and move forward with the memory of your loved one close to your heart.

This information is based on our interactions with grieving families and resources we have collected over the years.

The five stages of grief

In the 1960s, researchers identified five stages of grief that can help us understand how humans process loss. But as we’ve seen through decades of serving our community, the reality is a little more complicated. You may experience some or all of these stages, and you might go through them once or even twice before you arrive at acceptance. 

That said, understanding these common responses to loss can help us manage our own journey through grief and support others who might be going through it.


The initial shock of hearing that a loved one has died can be overwhelming. It can take some time to process the reality of this news. Which is why we may not believe it right away. Denial is something most of us go through – we know something has happened, but it doesn’t feel real. You might feel confused, foggy or numb during this stage.


As you move past denial and begin to accept the reality of your loss, your feelings may turn to anger. This can stem from a lack of answers – “Why did this happen?” and a lack of control over the situation. Many of us try to hold our anger within, but occasionally we might let it affect our behaviour towards others. We might also be angry at ourselves and our response to this loss – “Why doesn’t anyone understand what I’m feeling?”


During the bargaining stage, we tend to ask ourselves, “If only…”. We imagine a different outcome in our minds. We start to dwell on other actions we could’ve taken or things we should’ve said that might have prevented this loss. It can be a time of blame – blaming ourselves and sometimes others. This is often one of the trickiest stages to navigate because it holds us in the past when, in order to move through grief, we need to be in the present.


This stage can look very different to everyone. It’s quite visible for some – we might cry and look to others for physical and emotional support. For others, it can look like withdrawal and disengagement. Sometimes depression caused by loss can last several years. It’s also a critical time to ask for help


Finally, we move into acceptance. We acknowledge the loss that has taken place and understand there is nothing we can do to change it. We might begin to find peace or at least a flash of hope that things will be okay.

Getting help with grief

Help is never far away. In Australia, there is a range of free and paid support services. There are hotlines you can call any time of the day to speak to someone. You can also arrange counselling sessions and join support groups to share your experience. 

You’ll find a list of grief support services and resources available here.

We’re here to help

At Mareena Purslowe Funerals, we support you from day one. We’ll guide you and your family through your loss, taking care of the details so you have the time and space to begin to heal. We’re here for you 24/7, so don’t hesitate to reach out. 


This information is based on our interactions with grieving families and resources we have collected over the years.

More help

Grief support

A collection of support services, hotlines and resources to help you manage your loss.

Need support? We’re here to help