Through working with terminally ill patients, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. developed and popularized the five stages of grief. She observed that a dying patient’s grief often paralleled that of a survivor. While these stages are the experience of many mourners, they are not necessarily sequential in process.
Grief can be mysterious, especially as we attempt to sort through the pain we feel. While we try to pinpoint the losses that are causing our pain, we may form incorrect assumptions that lead to confusion, rather than offering a sense of hope.
The following myths are adapted from Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief:
Denial is the initial experience of shock or disbelief.
“I can’t believe this has happened to me. There must be some mistake.”
Bargaining is dialogue with a higher power in attempt to undo the loss.
“God, if only you will take away this pain, then I’ll do anything you ask.”
Confronted with the futility of bargaining, the mourner becomes angry at the loss, at the cause and at God.
“How could you (the cause or a higher power) have let this happen to me, of all people? What have I done to deserve this?”
The reality of the lack of control sets in.
“I have no reason to go on living. My life is over.”
Acceptance is embracing the reality of the loss and the change in lifestyle.
“In spite of the loss, I’m now ready to pursue new meaningful relationships and experiences.”