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The five stages of grief

We've all heard that grief has many stages. But what you might not know is that when we grieve we go in and out of these stages- not through them one by one in order. 

What are the five stages?


Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced us to the five stages in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. She claimed that the five stages are: 

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining 
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Each stage has a purpose: To help us survive the loss, to heal, to accept that we are powerless over death, and to live in the world without our loved one and begin again. 

Something to keep in mind, especially if you are dealing with the death of a parent, is that it is normal to want to "hold onto" your parent. This can mean you want to keep or even stockpile sentimental items or obtain larger property such as the family home.

Grief can cause us to behave irrationally and lash out at siblings and family members. This is especially true if we have been the primary care giver and feel we alone took care of Mom.

Guilt is a common emotion for adult children who live far away and feel they were not able to see Dad as often as they would have liked, or feel they were not there in enough in the end.  

The death of a parent or parents can cause us to feel "unmoored," that is loose and alone in the world. But the death of our parents is a natural process. Most of us will experience it. A turning point is often reached when we are able to see the transformative opportunity that this milestone event creates.

The opportunity is this: After we deny and rage and bargain and cry we can emerge as a new person. After we survive the grief we can set our own expectations and see our parents with new eyes. 



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