Christina Gregory, PhD explains “In this stage, your emotions may begin to stabilize. You re-enter reality.” She adds “It is definitely a time of adjustment and readjustment. In this stage, you may lift from your fog, you start to engage with friends again, and might even make new relationships as time goes on. You understand your loved one can never be replaced, but you move, grow, and evolve into your new reality.”
Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP writes “When we come to a place of acceptance, it is not that we no longer feel the pain of loss. However, we are no longer resisting the reality of our situation, and we are not struggling to make it something different.”
The adapted stages of the Kübler-Ross model
The Five Stages of Grief was later adapted by David Kessler who co-wrote the book On Grief & Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss with Elisabeth Kübler Ross.
Kessler says “On Grief and Grieving we present the adapted stages in the much-needed area of grief. The stages have evolved since their introduction and have been very misunderstood over the past four decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to lose that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss.”
The Five Stages of Grief was developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross to understand and explain the various ways we process and experience grief. However, the Kübler-Ross model was greatly misinterpreted and misunderstood and Kübler-Ross regretted writing the book in a way that made it look like a predictable and linear progression. Grief researcher Kenneth J. Doka explains “Kübler-Ross originally saw these stages as reflecting how people cope with illness and dying, not as reflections of how people grieve”
Although Kübler-Ross died in 2004, the adapted version of her model helps to rectify some of the flaws in the original version and manages to help people understand their emotional responses to loss and suffering. David Kessler explains “The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling.”
He adds “But they are not ‘stops’ on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. Just remember your grief is as unique as you are.”
However, it should be kept in mind that although the Kübler-Ross model has historical value, it is considered to be scientifically outdated, especially in clinical practice.
Grief is personal
Loss is a very personal experience. Although the Kübler-Ross model can help us understand the process of grief, the truth is we all grieve in our own way. When we lose a loved one, we tend to grieve our entire lives. It’s only the intensity that goes down with time. But the love remains the same in our hearts all our lives.
Clarke adds “It is important to remember that everyone copes with loss differently. While you may find that you experience all five stages of grief, you may also find that it is difficult to classify your feelings into any one of the stages. Have patience with yourself and your feelings in dealing with loss.”
If you think you need some help to cope with your feelings of grief, then do visit a mental health professional. A therapist can guide you through the process of grief and empower you to come to terms with reality. Clarke concludes “If you are supporting someone who has lost a loved one, remember that you don’t need to do anything specific, but allow them room to talk about it when they are ready.”