The Stages of Grief

Back to Life! A Personal Grief Guidebook

The stages of grief according to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross are;

1. Bargaining

2. Denial

3. Anger

4. Sadness, melancholy, maybe depression,ect.

5. Acceptance

Another model of the stages of grief is that of Dr. Roberta Temes in the book, "Living With An Empty Chair - a guide through grief." Temes describes three particular types of behavior exhibited by those suffering from grief and loss. They are:

* Numbness (mechanical functioning and social insulation)

* Disorganization (intensely painful feelings of loss)

* Reorganization (re-entry into a more 'normal' social life.)

Seven Stages of Grief

Another model of the stages of grief is the seven stage model including;








In working with my domestic violence clients and my anger management clients, who are mostly male, I routinely find that there is a huge well of untapped grief, and that teaching that grieving is a normal part of life, that it is very important to be aware of it, and let it run its natural course gives men permission to feel grief about losses they have suffered.

I agree with poet Robert Bly, that grief is the way to a man's soul.

I think reconciliation and forgiveness are virtually impossible until there has been an honoring of grief.

I also teach that each culture will have its own way of honoring grief, comparing and contrasting past and present models, to illustrate that grief is an issue that we humans have been working on for a long time.

Each individual dealing with the loss of an ideal, a relationship, a loved one, a pet, an important property, will move through some form of grieving to a greater or lesser degree.

In fact there are even fMRI studies of the brain activity of folks moving through the stages of grief now, that speak to the brain physiology of grief.

What I want my clients to understand is that there is a rhyme and a reason to the experience and it must be attended to no matter what level of intensity or direction it takes, and that we have some built in tools that help us move through the stages of grief.

In other words, grief need not be pathological requiring the efforts of a specialist.

However, research is taking us humans down some specialized paths these days, and a grief counselor may be just the ticket.

Ritual and the Stages of Grief

Not too many years ago, I was working with a client who was going through a very difficult divorce, which took him by surprise, and as part of the letting go process for the "perfect marriage" memory, we created a ceremony where he brought in a picture of himself and his soon to be ex-wife, and we went outside in the parking lot of my office and burned the picture and buried it in a pot of dirt in a symbolic funeral.

He was working on letting go of the ideal, which was as painful to lose as the real marriage, and he came back the next week reporting feeling much less pain.

The ritual that we created and executed helped him to differentiate and come to some peace about his losses, both the internal and external.

Perhaps you have heard of the Irish funeral, which is meant to be a celebration of the life of the deceased.

Our Christian tradition offers some important ceremony to mark this transition, and I can remember back to my 1950's childhood where it seemed that the neighborhood supported the family of the deceased in some helpful manner.

The stages of grief can be marked by art and ceremony, and I believe that a living memorial, a tree perhaps, is a wonderful gift for those of us who remain. Rituals are a key piece of what Malidoma Some' describes in his work to unite African and European traditions. He reports that the entire village in Africa will have an important task to attend to in getting the spirit of the deceased to the land of the ancestors, and it is important to execute those tasks effectively because the spirit of the deceased may not be helpful if it hangs around.

For some other ideas about grief, please consider the following tools.

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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.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.

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