Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The grief cycle

I have been asked if there are any models to show what it's like to experience grief.  Of course there are, many of them, too many really.  I am not sure I've ever found one which really helps the person going through it, although they're all a good guide for those suppporting the bereaved.  So here are a few of the cycles and models for grief with my thoughts.  I hope they're useful.

The Five Stage Kubler-Ross Model
Elizabeth Kubler Ross in 1969 identified the five stages of grief as being:
1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

This diagram shows how these stages are moved through, showing whether emotionally they are passive or active in terms of the person's part in them.  This shows that straight after a loss you are in a state of shock or immobilisation before moving into a place where none of it can be accepted.  There's then anger and bargaining with God before a period of depression, testing for the future and finally acceptance.


changingminds.org


The problems I have with this model are it's simplicity.  OK it's very easy to understand, but being that simple is also it's downside.  In all the various episodes of grief I've experienced it has never been as programnmable as this.  I've skipped stages, moved backwards, repeated stages.  I've moved as I needed and I found it hard when I tried to find where I fitted in this model.  It left me feeling as if I was somehow "doing it wrong".

The seven stages of grief
A model I prefer is one where the freedom of movement is more available, I also prefer to add in an additional two stages which are usually combined in the 5 steps.
- Shock or Disbelief
- Denial
- Anger
- Bargaining
- Guilt
- Depression
- Acceptance and Hope
strategies-for-managing-change.com
This model is much more useful for those who are grieving and those helping them; it shows what can be encountered but it does not prescribe when or how.  This allows for freedom of emotions as they arise.  Of course it's still necessary to be aware of some form of progression since it is possible to get stuck in a stage of grief.  If this happens then it is usual to seek additional help in the form of counselling or GP assistance.

One last note by way of closure; everyone moves through their grief differently for each bereavement.  It can be as quick as a few months or as long as many years.  There is no right or wrong, there is just grief. 

So.....
if you are grieving; please let yourself grieve.
if you are alongside someone who is bereaved, please know that it's a full time job and takes time.

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