Nothing is certain in life except for death and taxes. An old famous saying – but one that is true and accurate. Outside of the fact that we all pay taxes, in one way or another, the truth is that at point or another we will all die. And everyone around us will pass as well. It’s inevetiable. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a Swiss psychiatrist who is well known for the concept of the Cycle of Grief. She had begin developing this by bringing in patients who were dying into a classroom and had them openly discuss their fears and feelings to other psychiatrist. The emotions she observed in those patietns and the stages they went through is what led to the development of the five stages of grief that someone who is dying is expected to experience. And while her study and focus was on death, the emotions expressed became a generalized sequential format for anyone going through a difficult experience.
1. Denial and Isolate: Denial and isolation make up the first step. It is common to see one deny the fact that they are losing a loved one and for them to isolate themselves. It helps to cushion the blow and the isolation allows them to deal with their hope and dispair.
2. Anger: At this point we will see some rage fueled emotions such as resentment, bitterness, and envy. This is a healthy step from denial and typically means the loved one is accepting the real possiblity of death and that the loss is real.
3. Bargaining: Once the individual has accepted the loss, the next phase is bargaining. Generally this invovles pacts made with God where the individual makes certain promises in exchange for sparing their loved one. Like I said before these phases do not necessarily have to deal with death, they can be in reference to any difficult crisis the individual faces.
4. Depression: Once the individual realizes that the situation is real and they cannot “make a deal” to out of it, depression kicks in. The feelings of the loss has become overwhelming and we will see real sadness, pessismism, and feelings of guilt set in.
5. Acceptance: Once the individual has accepted the loss and the depression begins to lift they will come to terms with the inevitable. Acceptance is an important stage because one is now at full understanding that their love one is pasing or has pased, and they need to move that energy now into continuing on with their life.
While Kubler-Ross designed this cycle with reference to death and dying, the truth is it can be generalized and applied to any form of loss. But we need to keep in mind that not everyone deals with greif in the same stages and manners and that they will not go through them in a predictable way. Not to mention it is common to see someone go back and forth through the cycle as they will experience a varying degree of emotions as time progresses.
If you have been following this blog you know that personal development is the common overarching theme of what I write. And we will all go through difficult challenging times so it is important not to supress those feeling but to acknolwedge them and work through them to build ourselves into stronger individuals. A Guide to Crisis Intervention (K. Kanel, 2020) has made the following suggestions for those suffering from loss:
1. Acknowledge the loss
2. Take your feelings seriously
3. Talk to others
4. Make necessary accomodations
5. Be patient
6. Find your own way to memoralize the loss
7. Do not forget.
I’ll close with some words of wisdom from Toronto rapper Drake: “Pain is just a place I goto to get bars from, Anxiety is a drug I use to get the job done, and delusion is the place I like to think I’m far from.”