Grief

Stages of Grief

In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published the book “On Death and Dying” outlining what came to be known as the Five Stages of Grief. Few understood that Kubler-Ross was describing what she had observed in her patients who were dying. It was about personal grief from one’s own approaching death but could be applied to the grief of any loss that might be experienced. The author published a second book decades later entitled “On Grief and Grieving” in which she explained the stages further.

With this background in mind, it serves us well to briefly look at the five stages which Dr. Kubler-Ross listed.

1.Denial
Denial is a natural reaction which briefly buffers one from the unthinkable reality of death or approaching death.

2. Anger
Anger is often directed at the unfairness of the loss one is experiencing.

3. Bargaining
Bargaining is a mechanism that is especially used by those who are anticipating their own death. Bargaining might be in the form of asking to just see a daughter’s wedding or a grandchild’s birth before death.

4. Depression
Depression sets in when one realizes that bargaining will not work and is a period of deep mourning.

5. Acceptance
Accepting the inevitability of death brings a measure of peace, but it does not erase grief. 

One should never expect grief to be packaged in a neat orderly group of these five steps. Instead, grieving is personal and these stages can occur in any order, can overlap, as well as come and go over time. Having a general idea of what one is experiencing in these terms can, however, be helpful in recognizing the normalcy of the process.

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/07/06/book-reviews/

Types of Loss

These stages, these feelings are not only connected with loss through death but can be from any type of significant loss. Some that quickly come to my mind are the loss of a job, a home or a pet. Other less obvious perhaps are the loss of self-image (through injury or surgery), loss of a partner through divorce or separation and even loss of status or a sense of self. Through all of these losses and more, we can expect to deny, be angry, bargain, experience depression and hopefully finally reach a degree of acceptance.

IMG_7912 (1)

How to Say Goodbye

One of the hardest things to do is to say goodbye to one who is dying. Knowing that these are likely the last words you will speak to someone you care about is a formidable responsibility. Beryl Schewe (Eden Prairie News) notes six things that should or could be said. They are: I love you, Thank you, I forgive you, Forgive me, I will be OK, and Goodbye. It seems to me that any of these six simple phrases said in love are appropriate. I believe they are enough. I believe they can bring peace to both the dying and the survivor.

In the next post, we will discuss what to say and not say to one who is grieving.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” Queen Elizabeth II

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Book Reviews – Stiff, Smoke Get In Your Eyes, & Confessions of a Funeral Director

So much has been written about the subject of death since Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s seminal work was published in 1969. Kubler-Ross was a Swiss psychiatrist who worked with the terminally ill at the University of Chicago. She wrote “On Death and Dying” which presented the “five stages of death,” more accurately the five stages of grief. Thus began an open dialogue on the subject of death in medical schools and other clinical settings and to some extent in social conversation. Nearly fifty years later we are much less reluctant to discuss the subject of death and dying.

That does not mean that everyone is terribly comfortable with all that has been written over this time span or even with the general discussion of the subject of death. I devour the subject as my modest library demonstrates. I have learned from each author, but my favorites to date are Mary Roach, Caitlin Doughty, and Caleb Wilde. fullsizeoutput_138b

“Stiff”

First I would like to recommend “Stiff” by Mary Roach. Published in 2003 it is far more interesting than “Spook” released two years later. “Stiff” is full of history as well as contemporary subjects surrounding death. Want to know a little about cannibalism? How about cannibalism in the name of medicine? Have any idea what can happen to the human body donated to science? Most people think anatomy lab for medical students, few think of crash dummy. 

Roach’s macabre sense of humor has resulted in “Stiff” chapters with names like “A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste, The Cadaver Who Joined the Army, How to Know if You are Dead and Eat me,” just to name a few. Don’t let her way with words fool you, she does serious research and travels the world to gather information. 

 

“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”Other Lessons from the Crematory

 If you like both the subject of death and memoirs, this book is for you. Caitlin Doughty shares her experiences in the funeral business, but particularly in her job at a crematorium. Her gallows humor not only made me laugh frequently, it kept me grounded while I read about situations that were sometimes heartbreaking and disturbing.

Before we take that last journey into our own death shouldn’t we be as informed as possible about our options? Doughty will guide you through so much that you didn’t know you needed to know and she will do it with wit, charm, and compassion. Read it. Allow her to help you develop the “Art of Dying” which is appropriately the name of her last chapter. 

After reading this book you may want to check out her blog and other things this busy author is doing.  http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com

ht14Vm8LTQiU0dhL4ZoKAA

“Confessions of a Funeral Director” How the Business of Death Saved My Life

Caleb Wilde is a very sensitive and honest writer whose blog I have followed for several years. His book like his blog contains humor, but the purpose of his writing is much more on the serious side. Published last year this book covers Wilde’s life growing up in the family business and the adjustments he had to make in his life to remain a funeral director. 

The book is true to its title and contains confessions especially regarding Wilde’s battle against chronic depression. His journey is instructive, interesting and enlightening.

I recommend both this book and the blog by the same name. https://www.calebwilde.com

z0sStMbFQfifErMLXS8vGg

“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.”    Edvard Munch

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay