The Stages of Grief

Whenever I deal with grief, I usually do not even recognize it for what it is, probably because I have some strange concept that “big boys don’t cry”. Rather, I just feel the roller coaster of emotions and ask myself “What is wrong with me?” I find it helpful sometimes, though, to put a name to those emotions. Some scholars call these feelings the ‘stages of grief’. Below is such a list.

If your life has a religious component to it, then I urge you to turn to your inspired book or teachings for help through times of grief. For me, it’s the bible, with old and new testaments comforting those people who have experienced events that are mind-boggling. If you believe your book is the very word of God, that it does contain the Way of Life, then if your nose is not in said book, you are not being honest with yourself. It’s time to study it.

In addition to the book, maybe a read through the Stages of Grief, as purported by the Kubler-Ross model, would help and see if these stages or questions ring true for you; they usually do to me. I feel the intent of any of this material is to help those that have these emotions to better equip them to get through a rough spot in their life.

The progression of states is:[2]

  1. Denial—”I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
    Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of positions and individuals that will be left behind after death.
  2. Anger—”Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”
    Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.
  3. Bargaining—”Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”
    The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time…”
  4. Depression—”I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
    During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect oneself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
  5. Acceptance—”It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
    In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with his mortality or that of his loved one.

Kübler-Ross originally applied these stages to people suffering from terminal illness, later to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). This may also include significant life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction, the onset of a disease or chronic illness, an infertility diagnosis, as well many tragedies and disasters.

Kübler-Ross claimed these steps do not necessarily come in the order noted above, nor are all steps experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two. Often, people will experience several stages in a “roller coaster” effect—switching between two or more stages, returning to one or more several times before working through it.[2]

Significantly, people experiencing (or caretakers observing) the stages should not force the process. The grief process is highly personal and should not be rushed, nor lengthened, on the basis of an individual’s imposed time frame or opinion. One should merely be aware that the stages will be worked through and the ultimate stage of “Acceptance” will be reached.

(“Kübler-Ross model.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 20 Dec 2010. Web. 02 Jan. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kübler-Ross_model>)

A few encouraging verses from my notes I came across recently: Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 103:2, Romans 8:28, and Galations 6:9. If you have an encouraging verse or comment, please feel free to contribute below.

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4 responses to “The Stages of Grief

  1. Mat 5:4… =)

  2. That’s a good one, Sarah. Revelation 21:4.

  3. Hey Jason!
    I came out to your website looking for some levity; instead, I get to encourage you! Good trade-off for now — but I need to see something funny from you pretty soon! By the way, about ten days ago, I found myself in step 5 per above list — how about that? Here’s what encourages me every day – I try to demonstrate these as often as possible, some more than others:

    Galatians 5:22-24 (New International Version, ©2010)
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    Cheers Brother and Friend – Talk to you later!

  4. Pingback: The Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle « healingbetrayal

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