Having endured the Great Depression, two world wars, and the Korean War, invincibility and perseverance were parts of the can-do American persona. A hopeful attitude in the face of adversity seemed intrinsically virtuous, part of the American way. And there were good reasons to be optimistic. Cures for hitherto lethal conditions such as pneumonia, sepsis, kidney failure, and severe trauma had become commonplace. Disease was increasingly seen as a problem to be solved.

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Many of us are familiar with the five stages of grief. Denial does not always mean the person refuses to believe the event has happened. Sometimes it can take the form of shock, numbness, and a disconnection from emotions. The purpose of denial is almost to give enough time to create a controlled release of emotions, as feeling them all at once could overwhelm the person.

In our society, anger tends to be frowned upon. As children, we are taught that anger is the incorrect way to show emotion, and so we are not used to it. Sometimes the shame is outright, but most of the times it is through very small actions such as trying to quiet the angry person, showing embarrassment on their behalf, or dismissing the anger by trying to change the subject. All of those actions show the person the anger is wrong, when in reality, it is just another step to healing.

But bargaining can take more subtle forms as well. When in the stage of bargaining, there is a desire to go back to the time before the grief event ever happened. Guilt can show up heavily in this stage, as one thinks about what they could have done differently, or what led up to this stage. There can also be bargaining in how to avoid the pain of loss. Bargaining can feel like a very unbalanced state, but with time this will eventually pass and a new normal will settle in.

When something is lost, there is emptiness in its place. It is natural to feel an intense amount of sadness at what no longer is there. This is different from clinical depression, and is not enough to be categorized as a mental illness. The depression feels in the moment like it will last forever, but like all things, it too shall pass.

There is no rushing this stage. It simply must be. Acceptance, like all of the other stages, cannot be rushed. It is important not to try to jump to this stage, because the feelings that come with grief need to be processed in their own time. To rush this stage would be to have unresolved grief lingering.

When we reach acceptance, it does not mean we are okay with what happened to us, or that everything is back to normal. In fact, most of the time, you will never be the person you were before. But in accepting what has happened, you will be able to move forward into a new version of your life, one stronger than the one before. It is important to note that these stages are not linear.

You do not move smoothly and equally through all of them. In fact, you will often jump around a lot between stages, or skip other stages entirely. What grief looks like is different for everyone. Having a counselor is helpful in normalizing a lot of grief symptoms and in helping to navigate them. Muchos de nosotros estamos familiarizados con las cinco etapas de la pena. En nuestra sociedad, la ira tiende a ser mal visto. Esto es normal y parte del proceso, pero es importante recordar que esto no es para siempre.

Es natural sentir una intensa cantidad de tristeza en lo que ya no existe. No hay prisa en esta etapa. Simplemente debe ser. Lo que el dolor parece es diferente para todos. Written by: Yarely Ruiz, M.


The Five Stages of Grief™️

As expected, the stages would present themselves differently in grief. In our book, On Grief and Grieving we present the adapted stages in the much needed area of grief. The stages have evolved since their introduction and have been very misunderstood over the past four decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages.


Model de Kübler-Ross

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