In this section I will look at how the work of Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross changed how we look at the grieving process.
Dr Kübler-Ross, who pioneered methods in the support and counselling of personal trauma, grief and grieving, proposed a model of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). This is actually a model for change generally and as such can help people to understand and deal with personal reaction to trauma. It is not limited to death and dying.
Her book, On Death and Dying (1969) was quite revolutionary at the time and was a catalyst towards changing previously held beliefs that bereavement should not be discussed and that death is a taboo subject. This was very gratefully received by carers and by people who were dying or who had been bereaved, perhaps indicating the level of denial and suppression that had existed previously. Dr Kübler-Ross gave people ‘permission’ to feel their feelings and to talk about them openly, perhaps for the first time.
The ‘Grief Cycle’ was never intended to be a rigid series of sequential or uniformly timed steps. It’s a model or a framework rather than a process. A model is less specific – more of a shape or guide. People do not always experience all of the five ‘grief cycle’ stages. Some stages might be revisited. Some stages might not be experienced at all. Transition between stages can be more of an ebb and flow, rather than a progression. The five stages are not linear; neither are they equal in their experience. People’s grief, and other reactions to emotional trauma, are as individual as a fingerprint.
This model is useful because it recognises that people have to pass through their own individual journey of coming to terms with death and bereavement (and other kinds of loss), after which they usually reach an acceptance of reality, which then enables them to cope. When we know more about what is happening and why we are experiencing these sometimes strange and frightening sensations, it often makes life easier.
Next week we will look at each stage of this cycle in a little more depth.
If you are currently experiencing any of these issues and would like to talk, please feel free to get in touch. There will be no obligation to make a booking, it’s just an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have and to see if what I offer might be a good fit for you. My contact details are:
If you would like to take a look at my website, you can find it at:
You can read the whole of this article here