Elizabeth Kubler Ross has so much to teach us about death and dying, end of life transitions, and how to live our lives more fully while we’re vital. Elizabeth is the person who first wrote about the five stages of grief, forever changing how we talk about processing drop the body deaths, relationship changes, and what it feels like when a candidate we’re afraid of gets elected as president of the united states of america.
You’ve heard about the five stages of grieving many times before. The five stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Sometimes when I hear people talk about this process, it’s discussed like a check list. “Well, I’m definitely in the second stage of grief now. Only three more to go! Ughhh.”
A few years ago I was listening to David Kessler’s program, You Can Heal Your Heart, on Hay House Radio. David worked closely with Elizabeth Kubler Ross during her life. The misconception David explained about the five stages of grief has helped me enormously through breakups, funerals, and other life changes. The five stages of grief do not happen in a concrete order. The five stages of grief are not one and done experiences.
Just like learning isn’t linear and healing happens in a spiral, grieving isn’t orderly or predictable. Grieving is messy, surprising, and does not play out on a universally prescribed timeline. It’s normal to feel angry one day, accepting the next day, in denial on Wednesday, and then angry again on Thursday. Grieving is normal. Grieving is healthy. Grief looks different on everyone. In grief, time takes time.
Ritual and ceremony help us stay present through grief. You can even make up your own rituals, it’s actually very easy. For me, when I feel myself going through the process of grief, I know it’s important to lean into practices that work for me, stay off social media and mainstream news outlets, spend time in real life with people who I love, and remember that it’s my job to take care of me through my tender times.
It’s okay to have hard days. It’s okay to be in denial, to feel angry, to bargain with life, to feel depressed, and to have moments of acceptance. It’s normal for those feelings to happen over and over again. And it’s expected that the stages of grief will appear in a surprise order that probably won’t make any predictable sense. Take care of yourself and your loved ones accordingly.
What is “Practice” ??? — Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes practiced. I had a decent LOL when Sophia Wise One first shared that updated aphorism with me.
Valid feelings on hard days — On difficult days, connection, practice, and Love (which is autocapitalizing itself right now) feels amazing. Contrast is a mighty teacher.
Death and dying when you’re not dropping the body — The season of death is a shadow period. Now is a time to grieve, honor, and let go of who we were and what we used to want.