It’s time to rethink the stages of grief.

Five stages of grief?? I think not!

The Kubler Ross stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), also known as the 5 stages of grief, were first outlined in 1969, when Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book “On Death and Dying” was published. Her work was a reflection of the grief process of patients who had been diagnosed with terminal illness. Her work would become the gauge on which all grief is measured. Those experiencing grief would maneuver through these new “stages” until one reaches acceptance and thus completes their journey.

Forty-nine years later we still cling to her work. We so badly want to package our grief into something identifiable and manageable. After all, no one wants to remain in the depths of pain after losing someone we love forever. We want to feel we are getting better, ‘moving on”. I know I certainly did after the murder of my brother Dan. The pain was overwhelming. It came in waves. It was like walking through a minefield, not knowing when you were going to blowup. I wanted to feel change. I wanted to get my life back. The five stages of grief make you believe grief is like climbing a ladder. When you get to the top, acceptance, you have successfully grieved your loss.

This is what grief feels like!

Grief sayings that drive funeral directors crazy!

So it’s time to write another chapter in the book, one that properly identifies grief, one that dispels the myths that surround grief which stunt our healing and growth. Here are a few I can’t stand: “Time heals”, “At least you had closure”, “The first year is the worst”, “Grief follows a predictable similar path”, “You’ll get over it”, “At least you had a chance to say goodbye” or “At least your loved one’s death was sudden”, “At least she lived a good life”, “They wouldn’t want us to be sad”, “They would want us to celebrate their life and not be sad”, “God has a plan”, “God never gives us more than we can handle”.

We all grieve differently.

Please know this. Grief is as individual as the loved one we lost. There may be similarities in what others experience, but our grief journey is very unique. For some, support groups or individual therapy has greatly helped. Others find their comfort zone is going back to work. Workouts, taking the dog for a walk, sitting in a hunting stand, fishing, or meditating are all activities that can bring happiness and healing. Because others do not grieve like you, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

You are not alone, many others have experienced similar feelings. We are here to help too! Call the O’Connell’s to find out more about resources that can help you and your grief.