With the publication of her book “On Death and Dying” in 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross began a worldwide discussion about death and grief.
The author presented her theory that people grieving the death of a loved one experience common emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Dr. Kübler-Ross proposed these five stages of grief could be used to counsel clients to work through their sorrow.
The Huffington Post reported Dr. Kübler-Ross later regretted presenting those five stages in the way she wrote them because people mistook those stages as being linear and universal; grievers negotiate the stages in ways unique to their psychological makeup. A recent event reminded me of the five stages of grief, and of my “Death and Dying” university courses when I was completing my baccalaureate degree.
Last week, my heart breaking, I wrote the following in my journal:
“My dear friend is gone. She died two days ago, sometime in the morning. The call came shortly after she passed to the next World. The pain I feel is just indescribable. Could eyes be more swollen, the ache of the head almost as heavy as the ache in my Heart?”
In the middle of my deep grief, I became calm as I realized the foundations of my feelings. My friend taught me so much during the years we shared our respective journeys on this Earth; I could almost hear her comforting and supporting me as she had always done, countless times, when I was most in need of someone believing in me or hearing my burdens.
When Death forces its calling card upon our psyche, our sorrow is as much for the dead as it is for the living. What we see in a loved one’s death is our own mortality. The tears we shed for our loved one are tears spent for ourselves; the musings of how a good and loving Creator could allow such sorrow and pain can be self-questioning about how we treat others. In my friend’s passing, I learned again that death is an opportunity to create a new way to approach living, as I worked to move out of grief to acceptance and to a tentative truce with the knowledge of my own mortality.Read more: Working through the stages: Friend’s death brings unexpected gift of personal renewal