Grief Process Is as Unique as the Individual

Watershed 1969 book transformed the medical community’s approach toward dying patients. It identified five key steps that are a part of the grieving process among the dying but which since have gained broader acceptance.

In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross detailed the five stages of grieving she observed during her work with dying patients. In her book, Kübler-Ross not only identified the characteristics of those emotional reactions to impending death, but she also noted they occur in no particular order, and that the individual may revisit the stages from time to time.

Since the publication of her book, the five stages she described have become more broadly known as the grief cycle in any situation involving loss. Such a grieving process is ongoing for those mourning the loss of two people killed in a fatal car accident in Campton Hills last weekend.

The five stages are fairly simple and are noted in the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation website:

  • Denial is the “Not me,” “Why me?” or “I don’t believe it” response.
  • Anger manifests itself in a variety of ways, but generally is directed at the circumstance or the cause of the grief.
  • Bargaining might be seen as “I’ll do this” or “I’ll stop that” to avoid the end result.
  • Depression is an overwhelming sadness, often accompanied by feelings of futility.
  • And finally, acceptance, which is learning to live with the loss.

Kübler-Ross also pointed out in her book that grieving is a process involving several stages and which varies from person to person — she said herself there is nothing typical about the grieving process, which she described as individual as the person grieving.

The Hospice Foundation of America prefers to describe grief as an emotional roller coaster rather than a series of stages.

Generally, the foundation urges people to take care of themselves because grief is so stressful, and toward that end suggests “eating and sleeping well” and proper exercise. Talking about your grief, either with a close friend or in a group setting, or writing about it in a journal is a step toward working through the process, the foundation states.

The foundation offers a series of articles and other resources on its Web page about grief.

Professional Resources

Sometimes, professional help is needed. The National Association of School Psychologists can be reached at 301-657-0270, or you can visit its website at www.nasponline.org.

Psychology Today’s website offers a directory listing of 54 loss or grief therapists in the St. Charles area. Click here to view the directory.

Locally, St. Charles Patch’s business directory lists several counseling services:

  • , 630-377-6613
  • Dunham Counseling Centerm 451 Dunham Road, 630-444-1801
  • , 630-646-5200

Kübler-Ross’s book was considered groundbreaking in that it sparked changes in how the medical profession in this country deals with terminally ill patients, as well as expanding the understanding of the grieving process.


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