Hamlet and Grief

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There are five famous steps or stages to grief. Originally written by a Swiss psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 in her book On Death and Dying, these five stages have since been modified to feel less rigid and more adaptable to all of us. Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler collaborated and wrote a new book On Grief and Grieving which takes on this task. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, these are still just a model for what people will go through during death and the process of grief. Everyone experiences these five stages in their own way and in their own order, sometimes even coming back to some stages before moving on to the next. Even though these stages were not identified until the 20th century one of the earliest examples we can look at is in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” where the main protagonist, Hamlet, goes through these five stages. However, with Hamlet, like many of us, he experiences these in his own order. This first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface. When these feelings start to become reality, it leads most of us into the next stage quickly. Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem...
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