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The Stages of Grief

Aug 17, 2007
Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote about the five stages of catastrophic loss in her book," On Death and Dying". While she was speaking to the terminally ill patient, most people have found that the stages she defines work as well for almost any kind of grief.

While people argue as to whether these stages are really true for a person in grief, and while the whole issue of loss is quite complex, for myself I have found that I have indeed gone through the stages of grief and often more than once for the same loss. In some cases I don't know that I have ever come to a complete reconciliation of the loss. I don't mean that I have carried grief to the extent I could be described as clinically depressed or mentally ill, but definitely I still miss the person, place or thing with an intense sense of loss.

I have found it helpful to look at the five stages with every kind of loss to understand how I am dealing with the misfortune. There are so many types of loss as we deal with grief in the devotional. Everyday events such as moving, weddings, change in jobs, loss of a pet, graduations, broken dreams, broken homes, bankruptcy, loss of youth divorce...all cause grief. Tragedies like critical illness, accident, natural disasters, handicaps and acts of terrorism expose us to overwhelming grief. The process of grieving has many faces.

Recently, one of our married male friends died. My husband and I were very close to them as a couple. We traveled with them, always spent New Year's Eve going to a dinner theater. We enjoyed many activities together. They were our best friends. I went to see him at home where hospice was taking care of him. He was very sick, thin and pale. I think the stages of grief began for me then.

DENIAL, As a Christian, although I didn't say it in the latter days, I was still hoping and praying that he would be healed. I do believe in healing, but I also know that, for each of us, there is an appointed hour to die. It was indeed selfish. We so enjoyed ourselves with them, I simply couldn't imagine life without him. I could not admit to myself that this was his appointed hour. At the last, when I saw him a few days before his death I could see he was terminally ill. It was a rude awakening. It was like being hit with a tree limb. Oh, ok, he is not going to be healed. In some ways denial had been a protection, a hope, vain as it turned out, but a hope that everything would be alright.

ANGER, I used to argue about this stage of grief. But there is always some anger when you lose someone you love. I found myself saying, "Lord, why did you have to take him? Here is a man who contributed so much to life, to other people, to me. How could you do this to me, Lord?

BARGAINING, Now here comes the bargaining. I've got a good idea, Lord. Why don't you take some of the terrorists and leave my friend? How about Bin Laden or al Zakowi for starters? I can give them up real easily. How about taking someone older? I can think of few I could offer who really are no longer on their mental game. My friend's time was so short here on earth, and he's sharp as a tack. What will his precious wife do without him? Take someone who doesn't have a spouse or much family. It doesn't seem fair, Lord. Then you realize life and especially death aren't fair. Many die untimely deaths, and many great people die young or relatively young, and many cads and neer do wells live to be old. Does it help to realize this about loss, deprivation and death? Sometimes I struggle with the mysteries of loss here, but now we do see through a glass darkly.

DEPRESSION, Ok, nothing works here. I'm powerless. I'll never see him again. I think I'll watch TV 24 hours a day. Life can be too painful. It may never get better. I always throw in a bit of, "How can you do this to me, Lord?" Notice here I have given very little thought to what his wife, my dearest friend, is going through. Ah, she's doing ok. She has wonderful kids to comfort her. My husband and I just have each other here. I know there's something wrong and depressing with my logic, but I'm grieving.

ACCEPTANCE, One day I talked with my husband and realized we both were thinking of our friend, the wife, as dead too. My husband said, "You know we can still ask Barb to come with us. Maybe she won't or can't yet, but there's no reason why we shouldn't ask." It went through my mind, "Phil is gone. He's really gone. But we have to go on without him, still try to enjoy life and celebrate, just as he did." Then I remembered how much he really loved life and enjoyed almost every minute. What an inspiration! It made me realize too that it is alright to remember, especially when you have so many good times to remember; it is alright to toast to the good times; it is alright to know that he was at peace with his death and his God; it is alright to accept that some part of every good friend remains in me as a Godly gift and attribute; and finally, it is alright to miss him, sometimes very much because, you know what, his death is a very great loss. But how much better his very much grieved death, than that he should leave this earth and no one give a darn.
About the Author
Diana Burg is an author with several books. She writes novels, short stories, plays, screenplays and poetry. Her passion is writing.

Mourning Glory - A Devotional for Grieving is a book for those struggling through a loss and looking for support and comfort. http://www.amourningdevotional.com
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