In Chapter 6 (“The Path of Forgiveness”) of Forgiving the Unforgivable, Dr. David Stoops states: “Every painful offense involves a loss of some kind that can only be processed through grief.” He describes 4 stages in this process. Stages 1 and 4 are the bookends that hold the entire process together:
1. Denial or self-blame
2. Anger, protesting the offense
3. Sadness and resignation over what was lost
Dr. Stoops notes that we don’t go through the middle stages (2 and 3) in any definite or predictable order, but typically bounce back and forth between those stages. Both anger and sadness must be experienced if we are to successfully grieve.