Grief is part of being human, whether it is being pummeled with the pandemic, blindsided by a diagnosis or stricken with the loss of a loved one (through death or divorce). Attempting to suppress our emotions can compound our issues, causing one to feel miserably and powerlessly imprisoned. As each person’s response to grief is very unique, consider these models as examples of how a person may (or may not) respond. A person may revisit a stage of grief as their moods fluctuate. It is critical to do what is right for you!
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Grief Model
First of all the pathfinder psychiatrist, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, developed a list of characteristic responses to grief. She noted in working with the medical field that very little attention was being given to helping patients cope with grief. Her model, Five Stages of Grief, includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She structured her theory in 1969. These five stages may happen in any order while it is completely normal to even skip over some. https://www.biography.com/scientist/elisabeth-kubler-ross
Other Grief Models
Following Dr. Kubler-Ross, there have been several other models created. The next one in 1993, the Six Rs of Mourning, was developed by Dr. Therese Rando. Dr. Lois Tonkins founded Growing Around Grief in 1996. Professor Margaret Strobe and Dr. Henk Schut designed the Duel Process Model of Grief in 1999. During the year 2002, R. A. Neimeyer and A. Anderson generated the Reconstruction of Meaning. The last of this group was in the year 2008 with the conception of Dr. J. William Worden’s Four Tasks of Grieving. As each of these models is different, you may find one that is more suitable for your specific situation. Because of these models, Western medical practices have become increasingly more personalized in acknowledging the impact of grief on the psyche of humans. Links to further information on each of these is available at the following site. https://www.funeralguide.net/blog/the-grieving-process
Dr. Daniel Amen
Dr. Daniel Amen is the celebrity brain imaging doctor you may have seen on television. His premise is if one changes one’s brain, one can change one’s life. As a double board certified psychiatrist, he is very cognizant of emotional health. In his practice, he works with the Kubler-Ross model. Dr. Amen had recently lost his father immediately before the following video was recorded. He offers four tips to move through the grief process.
Complicated grief is an actual medical descriptor. Seven percent of the bereaved are affected. The symptoms are a cluster of extreme grief symptoms which severely hamper daily living to the point of feeling paralyzed from moving forward. I have personally found a large portion of these people who frequent websites on the topic of grieving. The most tragic loss is that of one’s child. While I have not experienced complicated grief, I know the tragedy of losing a child. My heart hurts for all those bereaved who seem to have absolutely no hope to carry on their life. If this is you or someone you love, I strongly recommend reading this NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) article. There are effective treatments available to regain one’s zest for life. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384440/
Throughout history, many indigenous cultures from around the world have experienced a more expansive view of life. When their groups are undisturbed, their grief is healed through communal ceremonies including mourning, dancing, drumming, etc. They work with rather than against nature. Those who have been fortunate to remain with their elders for generations sense that everything in existence has life and energy. As a result, they feel a oneness with everything. Their intimate knowledge of reality, which their cultures have known for thousands of years, is now being confirmed by quantum physics!
Perhaps some of these grief easing practices could be adopted. Contemplate the oneness of all. We never lose anything or anyone. My post, Mobius Strip Mindset: The Illusion of Loss illustrates this concept. Dance to release your emotions. Notice how you feel when you make music with instruments or voice. Practice the tremendously healing activity of forest bathing. Sit while leaning against a large tree. Relax and imagine the roots of the tree carrying one’s heartaches deep into the ground. Let your tears water the soil. Allow the earth to take your burdens. Expel all the stale air from your lungs and inhale new cleansed oxygen. Breathe and repeat as necessary. Let the fresh air invigorate you. Contemplate the cycle of sharing as your expelled carbon dioxide gives the tree life while the tree releases oxygen for you!
Drawing and writing are good recommendations. Expressing oneself is one very effective way to get one’s emotions out. It may be only for your own eyes, but it is well worth it.
Artistic, musical and written practices have brought me much comfort in my grieving. I am also quite grateful for the energy of nature which allows me to feel that there is much more to the world than what many may realize. May you find much comfort in your grieving journey. People care. There is help available. Please allow yourself to heal.