The Five Stages of Grief

The Five Stages of Grief by Linda Pastan

 The Five Stages of Grief : “The Five Stages of Grief” is a poem by American Poet Linda Pastan. In this poem, the writer lost her husband, the most important person in her life.

The Five Stages of Grief

The night I lost you
someone pointed me towards
the Five Stages of Grief
Go that way, they said,
it’s easy, like learning to climb
stairs after the amputation.
And so I climbed.
Denial was first.
I sat down at breakfast
carefully setting the table
for two. I passed you the toast—
you sat there. I passed
you the paper—you hid
behind it.
Anger seemed more familiar.
I burned the toast, snatched
the paper and read the headlines myself.
But they mentioned your departure,
and so I moved on to
Bargaining. What could I exchange
for you? The silence
after storms? My typing fingers?
Before I could decide, Depression
came puffing up, a poor relation
its suitcase tied together
with string. In the suitcase
were bandages for the eyes
and bottles of sleep. I slid
all the way down the stairs
feeling nothing.
And all the time Hope
flashed on and off
in defective neon.
Hope was a signpost pointing
straight in the air.
Hope was my uncle’s middle name,
he died of it.
After a year I am still climbing, though my feet slip
on your stone face.
The treeline
has long since disappeared;
green is a color
I have forgotten.
But now I see what I am climbing
towards: Acceptance
written in capital letters,
a special headline:
its name is in lights.
I struggle on,
waving and shouting.
Below, my whole life spreads its surf,
all the landscapes I’ve ever known
or dreamed of. Below
a fish jumps: the pulse
in your neck.
Acceptance. I finally
reach it.
But something is wrong.
Grief is a circular staircase.
I have lost you.

Literal Comprehension of poem : “The Five Stages of Grief”

“The Five Stages of Grief” is a poem by American Poet Linda Pastan. In this poem, the writer lost her husband, the most important person in her life. And, someone told her you should go through the five stages of grief that could be the simple way to forget him. The first stage is denial, at first, she denied her husband’s absence and she gave him toast and paper on the table but her husband behinds the paper.

She becomes very angry and burns the toast and takes the paper and reads herself. Then, she starts to bargain with death and searching for things that can be exchangeable for him. After that, remembering her past life with her husband she becomes too sad (depressed). After passes time, she has accepted the death of her husband and gets up to fight with upcoming challenges realizing that life and death is a natural process in human life.


The main theme of this poem is that life and death is a natural process, everybody has to face it and accept it, it happens in everybody’s life. When somebody goes from our life then we know the real value of that person. This poem taught to love, loved ones when they are alive otherwise it will be too late. Also, this poem tells us we have to accept the five stages of grief.

Critical Thinking

Some questionable aspects to this poem are;

  • Is it fruitful to be angry after losing anyone?
  • Is it possible to get back the dead person through bargaining?
  • Are really five stages of grief helps to forget the dead person?
  • Is everyone goes through the five stages of grief when they lost a person in their life?


The writer of this poem reminded me of the event when my best friend’s dad died. His mom was crying so hard and finding her husband everywhere pretending he is here. She stopped eating everything saying while he comes we will eat together. But after someday we convinced her saying life and death happened in everybody’s life.

Most asked question from this text is,

What are the five stages of grief?

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Read it also: Dominant Themes in Indo-Anglian Fiction

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