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The Stages of Grief

Today is the birthday of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (July 8, 1926-August 24, 2004.  She was a Swiss-American psychiatrist and a pioneer in near-death studies.

Elisabeth knew she wanted to be a doctor but her father did not allow it.  She ended up leaving home at age 16, volunteering in WWII and then going to medical school in 1951.  She married and came to the United States which is where her studies progressed.  

What she is known for is her book called “Death and Dying” in which she identified the five stages that terminally ill patients experience:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  These are stages for those who are dying but also for those who experience a loss.  

The five stages (source:

Denial – Avoidance, confusion, elation, shock, fear.  This stage can help you initially handle or survive the loss.

Anger – Frustration, irritation, anxiety. You might think why did this happen? It’s a natural response that helps with healing.

Bargaining – Struggling to find meaning, reaching out to others, telling one’s story.  You are so desperate to get your life back to normal that you are willing to do anything to change things.  You can also feel guilty during this stage, what if . . .

Depression – Overwhelmed, Helplessness, Hostility, Flight.  This is when you feel the emptiness when you are in reality and realize the loss.  You could need to seek out help if this feeling gets too overwhelming.

Acceptance– Exploring options, new plan in place, moving on.  Your emotions may begin to stabilize.  You come to terms with the fact of your loss or your illness. 

Private Home Health Care realizes that everyone’s grief is unique.  You do not necessarily go through each stage or in the order listed.  You might also have another stage.  What we learned from Elisabeth is how to identify our feelings and how to cope with our loss, all a part of this wonderful life.

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