In the book, On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss Elizabeth Kübler-Ross identified five stages in the grief process:
- "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me!" No crying, looking for the person in familiar places.
"Why me? It's not fair!" "NO! NO! How can this happen!"
"Just let me live to see my children graduate." "I'll do anything, can't you stretch it out? A few more years."
"I'm so sad, why bother with anything?". "I'm going to die . . . What's the point?" Includes overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity, mourning loss as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. Feeling lack of control, feeling numb, possibly suicidal.
"It's going to be OK."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." Resignation is different to acceptance. You have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly. Realization that it takes two to make or break a relationship, that the person who died did not leave you on purpose (even in cases of suicide, often the deceased person was not in their right frame of mind) Finding the good that can come out of the pain of loss, finding comfort and healing. Our goals turn toward personal growth. Stay with fond memories of the person.
These stages of grief can be applied to any form of catastrophic personal loss eg job, relationship, death of a loved one, a body part.
There is no set order for experiencing these stages. Some people only experience a couple but if stuck in one stage or the other, the process of grieving is not complete and cannot be complete. For complete healing, a person MUST go through the five stages to be well again, to heal. No one can force anyone to work through the stages and each person must go at their own pace, sometimes going backwards before forwards. It is up to the individual but vital for healing.
To feel pain after loss is normal. It shows that we are alive, that we care, that we love.
When my step-father died suddenly in the UK, the bereavement counselling charity Cruse helped my mother enormously. I really do not know what we would have done without that lovely lady's help.
Book: On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss available from amazon.
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