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The Truth About “Stages” of Grief

Published May 5th, 2017 in Life Well Lived Blog | Comments Off on The Truth About “Stages” of Grief

Holly Price received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Hello and welcome, my name is Holly Price and  I am often asked about the different stages of grief.

The different stages of grief model was first introduced by the well-known psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and her 1969 book On Death and Dying, which was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients in Chicago, Illinois. Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief were adopted as a series of emotions experienced by those who lost a loved one. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Unfortunately, when a grieving person hears there are stages and we need to encounter each of the five stages, as this type of information may appear linear as if there are a set of guidelines in which one needs to follow. This type of misunderstanding may lead one to set unrealistic objectives in feeling better over time. In reality, however, healing from your loss does not have to be a linear process. Therefore, one of the most important things to remember is one person’s experience with grief and their healing journey is not the same as another’s.

While Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief are no longer viewed as a structural encyclopedia for the bereaved, we have learned a great deal about grief since On Death and Dying was first released. We have gained an understanding that grief is not in itself depression, as grief is a multifaceted response to loss that is felt physically, mentally, socially, and culturally. In other words, grief contains dimensions that are a unique set of feelings. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for the bereaved is to continue to reach out to them and remember: grief is not a set of stages to healing, but a journey that is a unique journey for each individual. Even Kubler-Ross noted later in life that the stages are non-linear and unpredictable progression one needs to go through in order to heal, rather, they are a collation of five common experiences the bereaved can experience in any order, if at all.

If you are currently going through the grieving and healing process and would like to join our Grief Support Group, please visit our Grief Support page to learn more.