Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
These make up the five stages of grief according to Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.
Grief can take on many forms, usually prompted by the end of something; from the end of a relationship such as a divorce or break up, end of a job such as a termination or lay off, but the common form of grief is in the form of a death of a loved one.
Kubler-Ross argued one deals with grief in a five stage saga: denial, where one second guesses and even thinks it’s not real or happening; anger, where one expresses frustration and distress in a state of shock; Bargaining, where one starts to replay events leading up to the death hoping to find a way to reverse the events; Depression, a phase as the death begins to set in and brings about a catatonic bout of sadness; ultimately arriving to a moment of acceptance, where one comes to term with the events of the death but also the grief that follows.
Beyond the pomp and circumstance that is a wake, a funeral, a burial, and a repass, there is a journey that lies ahead. That journey is called grief. Grief has a lasting impact on one’s own existence, from interactions with self to interactions with others.
Grief is a traumatic but necessary evil that allows one to transition to a new way of life without the loved one they have lost. Though easier said than done, grief has many moments of missteps; often pressing rewind and starting the process over again as the year rolls by.
Grief often occurs in a state of déjà vu where one is often reminded of their loved one through everyday occurrences. Growing up in a childhood home, frequenting a nearby grocery store by a school where one may have grown up with said loved one. Beyond the physical reminders, mental reminders, in the form of threaded images on the brain, can carry far much more impact.
Science and intellect can explain empirical data that shows to what extent one goes through grief, but it can never illustrate the mental and psychological long-standing impact on one’s life.
Fifty years after this research, various books are written on the topic that focus on several theories such as the effect of gender, age, proximity, etc. can have on the grief. Various workshops are held around the country to offer guidance for those undergoing the process, especially for the first time.