Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed stages of grief when listening to and observing death and terminally ill patients. She came up with 5 stages of grief. I thought that was interesting because I think I have gone through 105 stages of grief… so far!
I am years out now from my husband passing away and I think it’s about time to study the stages of grief! For the first four years, I couldn’t concentrate enough to study Anything. Yes, it might be a little late because I feel like I am really healing, but grief will last my entire life. There’s no end to it- I have just found ways to deal with it and learn from it. I think that my biggest key to this is if I can find a way to learn from something- it’s worth living it. “When you know better, you do better.” Maya Angelo. Here’s what I have learned about grief so far…
Grief is a natural response when someone you love passes away. It’s normal to feel pain and grief when learning to live without your loved one. It hurts! I have found over the years that it is best to just let myself feel and live with whatever I’m feeling. My favorite motto for this is, “This too shall pass.” And it has- it passes in and out of all these crazy stages! I don’t think I will ever be “done” with grief. I grieve because I have loved and that’s a good thing. So if you have loved, then lost, grief is sure to follow. Grief is a process of healing.
There are responses to loss that many people have. Some say there are stages of grief, but grief is unique, just like all of us. It helps us realize that we are normal when we hear others are going through these emotional stages.
So Elisabeth developed 5 stages of grief. They can occur in any order and you can experience any or all of them repeatedly. The stages are NOT a complete list of all possible emotions. They can occur in any order and you can experience any or all of them repeatedly. And more! The first few weeks after my husband died I went through all of these stages in one minute, then the next minute I went through them in a different order. I also added in stages of peace, guilt, fear, confusion, and 97 others!
These are the 5 common stages of grief that Elisabeth found: (DABDA)
DENIAL: One of the first reactions to loss is denial. This is where you are in shock. Denial is a defense mechanism and you may refuse to accept reality. This helps us survive the loss and we only let in as much as we can handle at the time.
ANGER: This stage people come in and out of often- well at least I did. I think the more you let yourself feel it and go through it, the sooner it will leave. My friend told me that when you are angry, beneath that emotion is pain. You may be angry at yourself, others, the deceased, or God.
BARGAINING: This is a time when we wish we could go back in time, and what we could have done to change things or bring them back. We focus on the past so we don’t have to face the present or the future. Guilt is common at this stage.
DEPRESSION: Intense feelings of emptiness and sadness. Now we are in the present and it hurts. We wish life would just hurry up. This kind of depression is not a mental illness- it is a natural response to loss- it is mourning. We have to let ourselves feel the pain before it will get better. Kubler-Ross encourages you to make a place for your guest. Invite your depression to pull up a chair with you in front of the fire, and sit with it, without looking for a way to escape. Allow the sadness and emptiness to cleanse you and help you explore your loss in its entirety. It sounds hard to do, but feel the emotions as they pass by and be patient with yourself. It is a necessary part of your journey. One note of caution is if depression seems to linger too long please seek medical advice. They will help you know if what you are feeling is part of the healing process or not.
ACCEPTANCE: Sometimes people think that acceptance is getting to the point that you are ok with what happened. Not so. This stage is accepting reality and learning to live with it. We have to adjust, change and find our new normal. We learn to reorganize everything in our lives. We start to have good days and begin to live again. Many people thought that I was betraying my husband by moving on, but that’s not true at all. I was finding ways to enjoy life again. I was feeling like I was healing.
The process of mourning and grieving is normal, but we all do it differently. You can’t grieve wrong, too fast, or too slow. So please be aware that others are on their own path. There is no time when pain and grief are completed. You will not be “over it now”. People who have not gone through this have no idea of the emotions that come from losing their spouse, so I listen to others who have.
Grief and loss are now a part of me and I will never be the same. I take this as a good thing because I have learned more about love and life. I have a lot more compassion for people who are going through this because it is not easy. My biggest piece of advice is: Be kind to yourself and know that you will go through many stages of grief.
original post 12/22/14