Foreclosure - A Grieving Process

It has now been 2 years since I lost my home to foreclosure. Wow, it seems SO long ago... Yesterday I received an email from a real estate ...

It has now been 2 years since I lost my home to foreclosure. Wow, it seems SO long ago...

Yesterday I received an email from a real estate agent who was going through foreclosure and she wanted to know how I “swallowed my pride”, as she was ashamed at losing her home even though she fought hard for over a year to keep it. In reply to her email I included where I am today, 2 years later. My life is fantastic! Is it perfect? Oh, heck no, but life is good!

I am a survivor of foreclosure. But it hurts me when I see my friends and clients going through what I went through. It is definitely harder on some people than it is for others. What saddens me most is when I see couples, and families, breaking up while going through, or after having gone through this process.

The purpose of writing this article is to help those of you going through foreclosure understand that there is a “grieving process” while going through foreclosure. Hopefully this insight will help make going through it a little easier for you.

We go through a grieving process when we lose our home to foreclosure.

Anytime we lose someone that is dear to us, we go through a grieving process. This same grieving process comes into play when we lose something that is important to us.

Grief causes Stress. You have so many conflicting feelings… sorrow, anger, loneliness, sadness, shame, anxiety and guilt. These feelings often accompany all situations of serious loss, for which a home definitely qualifies.

Shame – what will people say? For men, this is the hardest, because they feel they have let their family down. He is losing the “roof” he had “provided over their heads”.

Anxiety – where am I going to live now? People start panicking, not knowing when the bank is going to “kick them out”.

Loneliness – Although you KNOW you're not the only one going through this, you shy away from others because you don’t want the subject coming up.


Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has named five stages of grief people go through following a serious loss. Losing a home IS a serious loss, so I have tweaked these five stages to someone going through foreclosure hoping to help produce a clearer picture.

Five Stages of Grief When Losing a House to Foreclosure

1. DENIAL AND ISOLATION. We deny that this is happening, and because we may be embarrassed, we start isolating ourselves from our spouse, friends and families. We “don’t want to talk about it”. We may even ignore the letters from the bank.

2. ANGER. We get mad at the banks, the real estate agent that sold us the house, the mortgage broker that got us into the crappy loan… and sometimes we get mad out our Spouses, blaming them for their part in putting us in this situation.

3. BARGAINING. I personally believe in a Heavenly Father (God) and if you do, you WILL find yourself trying to bargain with Him asking for a miracle. Bargaining also may include trying to Bargain with the banks… although if you’re not a candidate for a loan modification… this feels like just hitting your head against the wall.

4. DEPRESSION. You feel numb, and sometimes stop caring about the world around you. You may lose motivation to work. You may look to other things (like alcohol) to help dull your pain, although only a temporary fix (which I don't recommend). You still have some anger and sadness, but you’re mostly just numb… numb to the whole situation.

5. ACCEPTANCE. The anger, sadness and depression subsides. You’re “over it”, and you want to put it all behind you. You finally accept the reality, and this acceptance now allows you to move on.

Denying these feelings, and failing to work through the Five Stages of Grief is harder on the body and mind than going through them.

The grief of losing a home is horrible, but grief is actually a healing process. Sometimes we get stuck in one of the first four stages. You will go through all of these stages, but try not to stay stuck in the first four stages for very long. To get stuck only draws the pain and suffering out longer. If you hide or deny these emotions, it will take longer for healing to take place. The pain will remain until you move to the fifth stage – Acceptance.