If you are overindebted, there comes a point where you will realise that you are in serious trouble. You may have been declined for a much needed loan. You may be on the verge of losing your car, house or other assets. Irrespective of the circumstances you may come to the realisation that action is needed, sooner rather than later.

It is not uncommon for you to experience financial grief, even before your debtors are knocking on your door. There are different stages which applies to all types of grief, whether it is about money or more devastatingly losing a loved one. Understanding what you are feeling and why can help you recover psychologically while your find financial solutions.

Stage 1 – Denial

In the first stage, you will deny that there is a problem or that the situation has gone awry. You may believe that a large personal loan can fill the hole. It is the “this is not happening to me” stage or you may also think “there has been a mistake and it can be reversed”. Denial is usually short-lived. However, if you choose to bury your head in the sand and delay further, the situation could become worse. Today you may be blacklisted but soon you may lose your home and even be unable to feed your family with the overwhelming loan repayments and garnishments on your salary.

Stage 2 – Anger

During this stage of financial grief, you may find your anger is directed at your creditors or even loved ones who may be an expense in your life. Sometimes your anger is realistically directed inwards at yourself for overspending and over-committing. It is not uncommon to lash out at others during this stage, even at people who had no impact on your spending habits or overindebtedness. As with denial, the anger phase further delays you from taking action.

Stage 3 – Bargaining

Bargaining can be a dangerous stage in financial grief. You may attempt to borrow further and even resort to borrowing from illegal lenders and unscrupulous individuals The consequences can be dire. Sometimes bargaining may manifest in other ways. You may attempt to set up payment arrangements with multiple creditors and then renege on some, while paying others. This financial juggle can work for only so long. There is a more definitive option for bargaining if you deal with a debt review professional.

Stage 5 – Depression

Depression is not uncommon with financial grief and can be prolonged, lasting for months and sometimes even years as you battle to keep your head above water. It can take a toll on you physically just as it does mentally. A dire financial situation is one of the top five reasons for depression among adults globally. The outcome can be serious and devastating for families and lead to breakdown in relationships and even loss of life. According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, financial stress is one of the contributors to depression and suicide among adults. ¹

Stage 6 – Acceptance

Eventually you will accept that you in a financial crisis and need to take action. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Cutting back on your expenses is obviously the first step. However, more decisive action may be needed if debtors are knocking on your door and you may soon lose your assets. Speak to your creditors and try to find a solution. A debt review professional can act on your behalf to keep your creditors at bay, protect your assets with a court order that prevents it from being repossessed and reduce your debt repayments.


  1. Financial stress is a burden to South Africans. Citizen

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