Why We Need To Change Our Approach To Grief

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The stages of grief were developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross over 30 years ago, as she listened to and observed people living with terminal diagnoses. Since the publication of her book On Death and Dying, the “stages of grief,” as they are known, have become the gauge by which all grief is measured. What began as a way to understand the emotions of the dying became a way to strategize grief: The griever is expected to move through a series of clearly delineated stages, eventually arriving at “acceptance,” at which time their “grief work” is complete. 

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

I bet you know what the stages are, even if you don’t think of yourself as much of a psychology-type person. The stages are taught in introductory college courses, and were taught back when I was in hospice training. The stages are taught in grief and loss workshops. They come up in pop psychology and in clinical, scientific studies. The stages of grief are everywhere.

This means that many people, even professional psychologists, believe there is a right way and a wrong way to grieve, that there is an orderly and predictable pattern that everyone will go through, and if you don’t progress correctly, you are failing at grief. You must move through these stages completely, or you will never heal.

This is a lie.

Death and its aftermath is such a painful and disorienting time. I understand why people — both the griever and those witnessing grief — want some kind of road map, a clearly delineated set of steps or stages that will guarantee a successful end to the pain of grief. The truth is, grief is as individual as love: every life, every path, is unique. There is no predictable pattern, and no linear progression. Despite what many “experts” say, there are no stages of grief.

In her later years, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote that she regretted writing the stages the way that she did, that people mistook them as being both linear and universal. Based on what she observed while working with patients given terminal diagnoses, Ms. Ross identified fivecommon experiences, not five required experiences. Her stages, whether applied to the dying or those left living, were meant to normalize and validate what someone mightexperience in the swirl of insanity that is loss and death and grief.

The stages of grief were not meant to tell you what you feel, what you should feel, and when exactly you should feel it. They were not meant to dictate whether you are doing your grief “correctly” or not. They were meant to normalize a deeply not-normal time. They were meant to give comfort. Ms. Ross’ work was meant as a kindness, not a cage.

No matter how much the woman herself regretted the misuse of her stages, they are firmly embedded in our cultural ideas of the right and wrong ways to grieve. The stages are used as a corrective reproach, the process of grief turned into a race: Even the stages themselves are not meant to be lingered in. If someone is identified as being in a stage (especially a messy one, like anger), they need to “get through it” as quickly as possible so they can move on to the end goal of acceptance. Conversely, whatever stage someone is in, they must stay there until they are done, otherwise their grief work will suffer.

For your sake, and the sake of those around you, you must do your grieving fast, do it correctly, and be done.

Except that this isn’t how grief goes.

Grief is the natural response when someone you love is torn from your life. It is a natural process: a process of the heart being smashed and broken open, of reality shifting and hurling in place. It cares nothing for order or stages.

The truth is, you can’t force an order on pain. You can’t make it tidy or predictable. The stages of grief are a net thrown over a fogbank — they help neither to define nor contain.

To do grief “well” depends solely on individual experience. It means listening to your own reality. It means acknowledging pain and love and loss. It means allowing the truth of these things the space to exist without any artificial tethers or stages or requirements.

There is no set pattern, not for everyone and not even within each person. Each grief is unique, as each love is unique. There are no stages capable of containing all the experiences of love and pain. There are no stages of grief. 

If we take away this bedrock, what remains? What do we do without those landmarks?

Here are some things to remember:

• There is no finish line. This is not a race. Grief has its own lifespan, unique to you.

• There is no time when pain and grief are completed; you grieve because you love and love is part of you. Love changes, but does not end.

• What will happen, what can happen, as you allow your grief, is that you will move differently with pain. It shifts and changes: sometimes heavy, sometimes light.

• Anger will happen. So will fear, peace, joy, guilt, confusion, and a range of other things. You will flash back and forth through many feelings, often several of them at once.

• Sometimes you will be tired of grief. You will turn away. And you’ll turn back. And you’ll turn away. Grief has a rhythm of its own.

• Grief can be absolutely crazy-making. This does not mean you are crazy.

• There is no way to do grief “wrong.” It may be painful, but it is never wrong.

Remember that there is no “closure.” Grief is part of love, and love evolves. Even acceptance is not final: It continuously shifts and changes.

The truth is, you will seize up in the face of pain and soften into it, again and again, both things in rapid succession, and both things with silence in between. You’ll find ways to live inside your grief, and in doing so, it will find its own right place.

Your love, and your grief, are bigger than any stage could ever be. The only way to contain it is to let it be free.

As Ms. Ross said in the last days of her life, “I am more than these five stages. And so are you.”

By: Megan Devine
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

2013-12-12T11:24:22+00:00

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    Have you schedule a consultation yet? Drugs won't help you. The root cause is emotional and spiritual. Dherbs.com can help you! I'll have an article up on depression by December 1, 2008. Stay tuned to Dherbs.com!

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    Q: I was online searching for some natural treatments for hair growth in Black Men when I came across your article. I must say that I believe it was so on point that I decided not to look any further. I'm 44 years of age and started noticing my hair thinning when about 12 years ago. I was one of those that you wrote about in your article chasing a lifestyle that is no longer an interest to me. I did fall into some bad habits that were not good for my health off and on over the past 15 years or so more off than on. My body type I would describe as athletic. I'm tone, and strong when I exercise regularly. I'm about 150lbs @ 5'11". My diet is mostly vegetables but from time to time I feel I have to eat fish or chicken. Not necessarily prepared in the healthiest way I'm sure. I just got out of one of my "on" spells so to speak. Meaning the drinking of beer and cigarettes. I've been smoking and drinking beer now since September 2006 after not having done anything but live healthy for six years before that. As soon as my wife and I came back to the states and started working and runnign again these old destructive habits appeared again in my life. I only blame myself though. Right now my hair and skin suffer from the chemical poisoning from the habits that I just mentioned. I am prepared to take your advice about righteous living to heart and start fresh again. Is there a mild remedy that can work with me to stimulate the re-growth of my hair in the spots where it is balding in that classic balding pattern? I am generally very healthy when I doing right and even now rarely get sick. But my sickness manifest in stress and bad habits to num the pain of having to live this way when don't really want to. I quit the job that I've been working for the past 4 years for that reason and have been blessed to have some time not to grind everyday chasing after money. Now is a crucial time of healing for me, and I must take full advantage of the time. Moderation is in order for whatever you can suggest for me in the way of herbal remedies. I am sure that you can prescribe a simple overall regiment for my overall health based on what I have shared with you with an emphasis on the hair and skin. Again, thank you for writing the article. Call or write. The sooner the better.......Thank You!!

    A:

    I would say first detox with the FULL BODY DETOX and get your diet right CONSISTENTLY! Constantly clean your temple! This is key! Next, perform the TOTAL MALE CLEANSE. After this, do a daily regimen of HAIR SKIN NAILS FORMULA, ELECTRIC GREENS CELL FOOD, KHEMETIAN GOLD, and MSM SULFUR. Forgive yourself of past self-inflicted harm! Stop worrying about your hair loss. Start visualizing your hair growing back. If you can see it, you will achieve it! The mind is all and problems and remedies begin in the mind! BTW: we offer phone consultations if you're interested.

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    Q: I'm a bit confused, about how the extracts work, versus doing the physical work, to work on one situation(s). Specifically the anti-hate, anti-anger extracts. These don't take the place of a therapist, or counselor? I have some severe issues with hate anger, and bitterness. I know it's keeping me from enjoying the life that God has for me. I revel by saying "I'm not going to spend the next 20 years going to a therapist". So, I guess in short, I'm trying to find a quick-fix to getting through the pain, so that I can finally keep my head above the water.

    A:

    By no means, do or should these elixirs take the place of a qualified therapist, or some other helpful assistant, worldly, spiritual or otherwise. These elixirs are just agents and should be taken in addition to other things, consulting, spiritual healing, meditation, chakra balancing, and reading positive material.