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  • jacquelynkates

Stages are for theatre, not grief!

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross formulated arguably one of the most well-known grief models. “The Five Stages of Grief” concept was introduced in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. The stages are as follows:

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance


This model is likely familiar to you, as it is referenced frequently when the topic of grief arises. However, a less commonly known fact is that the concept was based on Kübler-Ross’ work with terminally ill patients, not on individuals grieving the loss of a loved one!


It would be nice if grief followed a roadmap similar to what these five stages offer. Neat steps to provide markers of the course of your grief. Confirmation that you are grieving “correctly” and “appropriately.” And then a nice plush red bow at the end to congratulate you and acknowledge your success at moving on!


The reality is, grief is NOT a linear process. There are no directions to follow. Each loss experience is completely unique and there is NO right or wrong (unless you are hurting yourself or another) way to grieve. A more accurate picture of grief is an ocean. In some moments, the waves are choppy and rough, others the water is placid, and then there are the random tsunamis that hit without warning. Let the phrase “it is okay not to be okay” be your life-preserver and know that just like the ocean, your grief is fluid.


Now, I want you to throw away the 5 stages of grief in the trashcan. You may experience one, all of them, none of them at all, or multiple simultaneously. If you take anything at all away from this post, please know that you DO NOT move on from the loss of someone you love. However, you do move. And each movement is worth celebrating!






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