Monday, January 10, 2011

Kübler-Ross Model

The Kübler-Ross model (a.k.a. the five stages of grief) was originally developed regarding people suffering from terminal illnesses, but was later applied to anybody dealing with a personal loss of some magnitude. My doctor had actually mentioned it to me when I visited him for an appointment during the holidays. I'd laughed it off then, and said I was fine (denial?). I remembered the conversation just now and looked it up on Wikipedia:

1. Denial—"I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."

Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of positions and individuals that will be left behind after death.

2. Anger—"Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; "Who is to blame?"
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.

3. Bargaining—"Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."

4. Depression—"I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die... What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"

During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect oneself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

5. Acceptance—"It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."

In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with his mortality or that of his loved one.

Apparently the steps don't always occur in this order, and not all of them do actually occur or sometimes people go back and forth between various steps. And this process should be allowed to take place naturally, neither rushed nor lengthened, until the final stage (acceptance) is reached.

Knowing my impatient personality, it was good to realize this. It is hard for me not to push myself too hard (even with getting over things like this??!)!!

But to be honest, sometimes I look back on the past six years of my life and wonder what I was possibly thinking. And I remind myself that it is better "late" than "later," and better "later" than "never."

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