The Five Stages of Grief and Sorrow

Good morning to each of you and a huge thank you for continuing to visit my site, even in the absence of new posts. May you have a wonderful day and a fabulous weekend. There were several search terms about sorrow and despair, and I’d like to discuss sorrow, or grief, and the five stages of recovery.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined five stages of grief as it applies to death and dying. These stages occur at your own rate, and often show up like a “dance,” with gentle flowing from one stage to the next, back again to the second stage, skipping one or two, then back to one again, etc. Grief is such an individual process that each of you grieves uniquely.

In this discussion about grief and sorrow, I am expanding loss to be anything from a death of a loved one, to the death of a pet, the loss of a job (even if it’s your choice), a move, and loss of a relationship of any sort (even if you left). Anything that leads to the change in the familiar is a loss and needs to be grieved.

Here are the five stages, as defined by Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the denial stage, you cannot see that what is happening is real, and have difficulty grasping the situation. This stage is all about being in shock and not being able to respond much.

In anger, you are mad at the situation, as well as at the person that is/has leaving/left you, even if they died. Many of you may feel guilty for getting angry at a dying person, yet, that is typical to be mad that they are leaving you, that they did not take better care of themselves, etc. In the case of a move or loss of a job, even if you initiated these, anger hits when you mourn the loss of the familiar, and you get angry at yourself for making the change into the unknown.

Bargaining shows up and often is a plea to God, or whatever the power is you defer to that is bigger than yourself. “If only you’ll let Susie live, I will change xyz, I will be good…” The next stage is depression and this is quite normal to enter a state of depression for a period of time in response to your loss. Be aware, however, if it becomes prolonged or if it affects your ability to eat and sleep for long periods of time, or if you become suicidal. In these cases, seek the care of a physician to determine if you are clinically depressed and in need of medication.

The final stage is acceptance, as you realize you cannot change what has occurred. In this stage, you are not saying that you think everything is okay, yet, you accept things are as they are. You finally gain some peace from the situation and are able to move forward with your life.

That’s a summary of the five stages of grief and sorrow, as defined by Kubler-Ross. Tomorrow, I will talk about another philosophy of grief and sorrow that is related to loss.

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Grief Timeline and Behaviors – Part 1

Good morning to you each. I hope your day has dawned with the promise of peace. Today, I picked the topic of grief and want to look at the process involved in grief recovery – how long it takes and what we might be dealing with throughout the process.

My information here is based on personal experience with seven years of a debilitating grief from which I recovered, as well as the book, The Grief Recovery Handbook, the 20th edition, by John W. James and Russell Friedman. Some of what I say about the stages of grief are based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ teachings about the 5 stages of death and dying.

Perhaps the first thing about the grief process is to know that grief is normal after loss of any sort… death of a loved one or pet, divorce or loss of a relationship, loss of a job, or a move from one place to another. The other thing to know is we are not alone. Others have also felt loss and gone through grieving.

But what do we do when we feel this acute emotional pain, this loss? We take baby steps, and we allow ourselves to feel the pain in waves, or however it presents itself to us. If we cannot deal with the pain all the time, that is normal, and need to divert ourselves, distract ourselves, that is normal. I don’t recommend using substances to numb ourselves as a healthy distraction, however.

We honor our process, the steps we make. Our feelings may go back and forth between denial, anger, bargaining, and depression until we finally reach acceptance. This is totally individual and while one person goes through these in order and not too lengthy a time in each, another may go back and forth hundreds of times and take months or years to go through.

It’s important to remember we are each unique, that the relationship we had with what we have lost is unique and, thus, our responses will all be unique. People will say well-meaning things to us which are not useful and even hurtful, like “Get over it,” or, “You didn’t need her anyway. You’ll find someone else better.”

These things are said out of ignorance of knowing what to say to someone who has suffered a loss. Try to have tolerance of these things that are said and not take them to heart. Know that we as a society have not learned how to deal with loss and so, are uncomfortable with it.

I want to continue this tomorrow but I will leave you with this thought: Alternating between a roller coaster ride and calm are quite normal and if we can see our pattern and the things that trigger us to go on the ride, plummeting, than we can predict it and not go under when it hits.

Tomorrow, I will address feelings specific to the grieving process, and ways to move through them. Please come back for the conclusion when I write about how to cope with grief and its behaviors.

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