Perhaps you have lost someone you loved. Perhaps you are transitioning from working life into retirement, or have been through a difficult relationship breakdown.
We have felt those intense rolling waves of emotion at times, and at other times felt numb.
But, do we all experience the same feelings each time we lose a loved one? And how do we know if we are grieving in a healthy way?
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is the person credited with “The Five Stages of Grief”. This hypothesis was first introduced in her book “On Death and Dying”, which was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients.
The Five Stages of Grief
Kübler-Ross revolutionised how the medical field took care of the terminally ill. The five stages of grief she identified are:
- Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
- Anger (why is this happening to me?)
- Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if …)
- Depression (I don’t care anymore)
- Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)
These stages of grief are also experienced by individuals following a bereavement. Kübler-Ross added that these stages are not meant to be complete or chronological.
At the same time, not everyone who experiences a life-threatening or life-altering event feels all five of the responses – nor will everyone who does experience them do so in any particular order. The hypothesis is that the reactions to illness, death, and loss are as unique as the person experiencing them.
The Four Tasks of Grief
Worden (1983) explains that there are four tasks of grief:
- Accepting the reality of loss;
- Expressing the emotions of loss;
- Adjusting to the new environment;
- Withdrawing emotional energy and re-invest it in other relationships.
Grief and Loss Counselling involves working alongside a counsellor who can help facilitate these tasks, and support you in your journey of the grieving process.
This can be particularly helpful for those of you who have not had opportunity to grieve due to being caught up in supporting others, working, or other aspects of life that have kept you preoccupied.
It can also give you the chance to attend to unresolved conflicts with the person you have lost, and find a way to say goodbye that is meaningful to you.
Author: Naomi Griffin, BA (Psych & Music); Grad Dip in Pastoral Couns; PG Dip Psych; Grad Cert Case Management; Grad Cert Ed Studies (Career Development); STAP; MAPS; MCCoun.
Please Note: Naomi is not currently practising at Vision Psychology, but is continuing to provide supervision for provisional (including 4+2 and 5+1) and registered psychologists, and for ministry agents in the wider Christian community. If you would like information regarding supervision, or want to book an appointment with a Christian psychologist, please contact Reception on 1800 877 924.