In this work, On Grief and Grieving Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and I wanted to revisit the stages for clarification in grief and loss. The stages have evolved since their introduction and they have been very misunderstood over the past three decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives (Kübler-Ross, 2014). I will also provide information on African American culture perception of death and dying
The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling (Kubler – Ross, 2014). But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is a unique as you are.
In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying. Research and interviews began in 1965 and encountered problems because (1) There is no real way to study the psychological aspects of dying and (2) Patients were often willing to talk but it was hard to convince the doctors. In her Stage Theory Kubler-Ross saw a pattern emerging that she expressed in the way of stages. These stages begin when the patient is first aware of a terminal illness. While Kubler-Ross believed this to be universal, there is quite a bit of room for individual variation. Not everyone goes through each stage and the order may be different for each person. The following were the stages; Denial and Isolation: Used by almost all patients in some form. It is a usually temporary shock response to bad news Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible (Lim, 2013). Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. “But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface” (Kubler-Ross 2014, pg. 19).
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but Anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this? Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn’t attend the funeral, maybe a person who isn’t around, maybe a person who is different now that your loved one has died. Suddenly you have a structure – – your anger toward them. The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing. We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. “The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love” (Larson 2014, pg 28).
Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God,” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll……………………………………