The process of grieving the loss of a loved one is often surreal and deeply painful. The feelings of loss are often in proportion to how much love there was for this person. The greater the love and connection, the greater the feeling of loss when he or she is gone.
The Kubler-Ross model, commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, is a theory first introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying.
The stages, include:
- Denial - "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions and individuals that will be left behind after death.
Anger - "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy.
Bargaining - "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just do something to buy more time..."
Depression - "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die soon so what's the point... What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
Acceptance - "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.
Walking through the stages of grief with a therapist can help the process in this sad time.
Kubler-Ross model. (2002). Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model
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