The Stages of Grief and Loss
Knowing the stages of grief and loss help to make the process of moving through them a bit easier, and it is very important to move through them with a bit of overview, an observer self, coming into play.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's five stage model of grief is the model that most of us think of when we think of the stages of grief and loss, although there are some other models with different numbers of stages.
Kubler-Ross actually observed her stages in folks who were sick and given a terminal diagnosis.
It seemed that the folks experiencing a diagnosis like that touched on the stages of;
Her stage model is a model only and folks looking at their mortality will move through the stages in a non-linear fashion at their own pace and in their own way, arriving at their death following an individual pattern.
Since her work, which was first published on 1969 I believe, her stages of grief and loss have been generalized to survivors also, which I think is useful.
I teach my domestic violence clients and anger management clients about the stages of grief and loss as part of their group education, so they know that emotions serve a purpose in their lives and emotions follow a pattern, and with awareness of those patterns, like the pattern of grief, the pattern can be moved through effectively and balance restored, and even hope for more effective human relationships restored.
Why is that important....
Human beings have been creating the most elaborate funeral ceremonies and monuments it seems since the beginning of time. Obviously, the experience of death and its mysteries for those of us left behind are laden with incredible importance.
At the very least, grief left undone impacts the individuals willingness to risk closeness in the future, and that is what I see in my domestic violence clients and anger management clients. The loss of trust naively given to a lover, or even a drug addicted parent, and the unfinished hurt that follows can lead an individual to never want to risk that pain again, so they never enter completely into a relationship.
The good news is that grief can be honored and processed at any time.
I have seen WWII and Viet Nam vets work on letting go of feelings about their war time experiences decades after the actual experience, and I have seen many others touch the intensity of grief from their broken hearts in experiential workshops where we have worked to establish a safe place to touch feelings.
If you want to read an interesting model from another culture, please read any of the books by Malidoma Some', who is an African Shaman with at last count seven graduate degrees.
Some' writes of the rituals that villagers went through when a villager passed.
Everyone had a job to do to ensure that the spirit of the deceased got to its correct destination.
If we do not move through the stages of grief and loss effectively as individuals, we may not return to our relationships as openly as we once did.
In the African model, the spirit needed to transition to the land of the ancestors because it could cause mischief in this realm.
Our undone grief can separate us from those still here, so it is of great importance to mourn and grieve.
Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
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