Steps to living without you; Can Kubler-Ross’ stage theory help me to understand, and work more effectively with grief?
This assignment has been by far the most difficult to date, I have struggled intensely with my own personal grief and how I am able to relate this to theory. I have found that though many books on this subject are in-depth and informative I have not been able to connect to the theory due to the over whelming emotion I have felt around this topic. Therefore the biggest challenge in writing this assignment has been for me to manage my own profound feelings of grief while trying offer a professional and objective view on the theoretical works of this subject.
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel in response to an individual’s own terminal illness or to the death of something or someone you love. Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience and I feel that there is no wrong way or right way to grieve. In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote “on death and dying”, in this book she proposed the five stages of normal grief. These five stages of grief were based on her studies of patients facing terminal illness, but over the years have been generalized to other types of losses, such as the death of a loved one. Her theory has been the framework to many others understandings and writings about the process of grief.
It is for this reason I have chosen her theoretical model to explore in my assignment. I will look at each stage in this proposed theory from both a personal and professional view. My intentions are to offer a personal insight into my own grief, and were I feel this model fits with my grieving process. Also to reflect on my professional practice and whether this model of theory has helped me with my client work.
The five stages of grief
Though I will write these five stages in the order written by Kubler-Ross she makes it very clear that they are not linear and not everyone will go through all of the five stages, while some stages might be revisited (1970). It is also my opinion that not all of these stages are equal in their experience.
For many this is regarded as the first stage of grieving, a natural response that carries us through the first wave of pain. Denial is not meant in the literal meaning, you do not know that your loved one has died. It is more symbolic, you cannot believe that they will not walk through the door any minute (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2005). When life makes no sense, we go numb. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. It is a refusal to accept facts or reality; it is a perfectly natural defence mechanism.
Anger is felt to be a necessary part of the healing process; it does not have to be logical or valid for it has no limits. The anger may be aimed at ourselves, or towards others, especially those close to us. We may be angry with the deceased for leaving us behind or with the doctor for not saving our loved one. No matter where the anger is directed, the person will often feel guilty for feeling angry and this then makes them angrier. Anger comes from pain, it is strength and it can be an anchor giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. “It is sometimes a helpful response, one that should not be stifled” (Kessler, 2007, p. 87).
“Bargaining can be an important reprieve from pain that occupies one's grief” (Kubler-Ross
& Kessler, 2005 p, 19). Bargaining is a very personal and individual stage of grief; it allows us
to believe that order may be restored to the chaos. It allows us the illusion of control, it
gives us momentary relief. Bargaining changes over time, if a loved one is dying we might
bargain that they be saved or that we die instead of them. When we have accepted their
inevitable death we may bargain that...
References: Bowlby, J. (1981). Attachment and Loss: Volume3. Loss Sadness and Depression, Penguin Books Ltd, London, England.
Edelman, S. (2006). Change Your Thinking with CBT, The Random House Group Ltd, London, England.
Frankl, V. (2004). Man’s Search for Meaning, The Random House Group Ltd, London, England.
Gorer, G. (1965). Death, Grief, and Mourning in Contemporary Britain, Cresset Press, London.
Kessler, D. (2007). The Needs of the Dying, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, USA.
Kubler-Ross, E. (1970). On Death and Dying, Tavistock Publications Limited, Great Britain.
Kubler-Ross, E. & Kessler, D. (2005). On Grief and Grieving, Simon & Schuster Ltd, London, UK.
Murray Parkes, C. (2009). Love and Loss: The Roots of Grief and its Complications, Routledge, East Sussex, England.
Worden, J. W. (2009). Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy, Springer Publishing Company, LLC, New York.
Yalom, I.D. (1991). Love’s Executioner, Penguin Books Ltd, London, England.
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