Almost fifty years later, we are still talking about the stages of grief first described by the Kubler-Ross model. The Kübler-Ross model postulates a series of emotional stages experienced by survivors of an intimate’s death, wherein the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The model was first introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, and was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients. Upon reading more about it, you find them not be distinct stages and can overlap or not happen at all.
I don’t dispute the validity of the findings but I have found this description lacking especially as a new widow. I disagree with the myth of “Don’t do anything for a year after a major loss”. I believe we can be self-determining way before a year. I even subscribe to it being healthy to make decisions that positively lead you in making goals and finding your path in your new life. I was forced to make big decisions about my life starting from the day after my husband’s funeral. Looking back on it I am glad. I would have hated to be in a holding pattern for the last year.
I have learned so much about myself and how to make good decisions. I’ve made mistakes but this is how we learn. I have recently seen a presentation by Paul W. Young, the author who wrote The Shack that is now a movie. He said his grandson approached his son and asked, “Do you think Jesus ever made mistakes?” The son replied to the boy, “What do You think?” After the boy thought about it a few minutes he said, “I think he did, because how else would he have ever learned anything” Out of the mouths of babes, right!
Self-determination is empowering and I think modern women who become widows are up to the task. We are not fragile and hysterical as we were once described in the past. We are strong, know what we want and know what we must do to get there. So, you want to know what not to do in Stages of Grief, this is what has helped me.
- Don’t wait
These emotional stages are not something you journey through to graduate out of grief on the other end. Waiting does not decrease the pain and loneliness of loss. Find your path as soon as you are able and act on it.
- Don’t get stuck
Do not just keep doing the same things in the same old ways as if this will bring your loved one back or somehow you will get used to it without them. You can find innovative ways of doing things and enjoy these new ways.
- Don’t be afraid
Don’t be afraid to try new things and add them to your routine. New things are so important.
- Don’t let things go
Trying not to face some things will not make them go away. Face your dilemmas and make positive decisions to set up your new life on course toward your goals.
These things have helped me continue to be directed and purposeful in my decisions, goals and plans as I go forth in new uncharted waters. Live with productivity and purpose and it will make a significant difference for you too. Let me know what has helped you on your journey.