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“The 5 Stages of Grief” and Your Unexpected Pregnancy

Have you ever heard of “The 5 Stages of Grief?”  It’s widely accepted that grief happens in phases, but is grieving really that clear-cut?  Would an unexpected pregnancy include a grieving process?  If you’ve recently discovered that you’re pregnant, you’ll likely need time and caring support as you process these circumstances and what they mean for your life.  Avenue Women’s Center is a great first step while beginning your unexpected pregnancy journey.

At Avenue, we provide early pregnancy services to women in Chicagoland and beyond!  It’s our mission to equip you with knowledge and encouragement, so you feel empowered to move forward with confidence.  We understand that coming to a pregnancy decision is a challenging process for many women, and we’re here to walk by your side every step of the way.

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Some Background on “The 5 Stages of Grief”

The 5 Stages of Grief, developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, describe the process of coping with loss.  Kubler-Ross first came up with this model to explain how people with life-threatening illnesses come to terms.  It wasn’t until later that her ideas were applied to individuals grieving the death of a loved one.  When it comes to understanding the development of grief, it’s wise to take the concept of 5 separate stages with a grain of salt.  Recent studies demonstrate that grief isn’t a simple or straightforward process.  There’s a lot of diversity in our reasons for grieving, the pace and length of our grieving, the order and presence of Kubler-Ross’s “stages,” and whether we repeat these “stages” or experience new ones.  If your grieving process doesn’t fit a particular mold or look like someone else’s, that’s completely okay!

How Does Grief Relate to My Unexpected Pregnancy?

Grief is usually understood as a response to the passing of a loved one, but it can actually describe the process of coping with any sort of loss.  If you’ve experienced an unexpected pregnancy, chances are, some kind of loss has taken place.  Perhaps you’ve lost your vision for your future.  Maybe this pregnancy has affected the way you see yourself or changed the dynamics of your relationships.  Understanding the unique losses that have come with your pregnancy journey may help you to process and move toward a place of acceptance.

What Are “The 5 Stages of Grief?”


Denial means you’re having a difficult time wrapping your mind around the reality of your situation. For example, you’re looking at a positive result on a pregnancy test, but you just can’t believe this is actually happening.  Our minds aren’t always quick to understand that we’ve lost someone or something important, that our circumstances have changed, and that we can’t necessarily go back to the way things were.  Some denial is natural and perhaps even healthy.  Our brains need time to process and accept change.


When you’re going through a loss, some anger and blame are natural. It may be directed toward yourself, other people, or a Higher Being.


Within the context of grief, bargaining is the mind’s way of trying to reverse what has happened. For example, perhaps you’ve noticed some symptoms of pregnancy and are about to take a pregnancy test.  You may think to yourself or pray, “If I get a negative result, I promise I won’t sleep with him again.”  Bargaining may also include “if only” thinking.  An example might include the thought, “If only I hadn’t called him that night.”


It’s normal to feel sad after losing someone or something you care about. You may experience hopelessness, confusion, or difficulty with focus and decision-making.  Depression within the grieving process is different than major depressive disorder, although it may develop into clinical depression.


Sometimes, grief doesn’t disappear completely, even over time. Acceptance is about recognizing the loss that has occurred, adapting to it, and feeling hopeful about the future again.

Remember- these are general concepts that some people experience, which may offer insight into your own relationship with grief.  Even Elizabeth Kubler-Ross acknowledged that grief is unpredictable.

Has your unexpected pregnancy caused you to experience a sense of loss?  How so?  What has your unique grieving process looked like?  These questions may help you to better understand your pregnancy journey and take your next steps, but they aren’t always easy to answer.  Our compassionate pregnancy consultants at Avenue Women’s Center are available to hear your story, offer support, and share helpful resources.

Schedule an appointment at one of our six limited medical clinics or speak with an expert staff member remotely!





The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.