21 October 2012

On Death and Dying

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a brilliant Swiss American Psychiatrist became well known in 1969 when her book 'Death and Dying' was published. This book soon became famous for her well known description of the five stages of grief. Unfortunately we can all relate. Grief is universal. It visits everyone. Death. Loss. Change. Life. 

First we go into denial. Shock. Whatever has happened is too terrible. We can't bring ourselves to say it is true. We can't believe it's true. We won't believe it's true.

Second, we become angry. We become angry with others. We become angry with ourselves. We become angry with the guilty. We become angry with the innocent. 

We bargain. We vow to do anything if only things will return to the way they were. One more day. One more word. One 'do-over'.

The worst of the five stages? Depression. Despair. Sadness. Regret.

And finally, the long awaited stage - we come to accept it. We accept life is the way it is. We accept what happened, did happen. We accept the heartbreak. We accept that it is time to move on.

The worst part about the five stages of grief? It's uncontrollable. When we think it's getting better? It doesn't. When we feel we are making progress? We take ten steps backwards. When I wake up, will this still be happening? When I wake up, will this still be true? The best we can do is be patient with ourselves. The very best thing we can do is allow ourselves to grieve. Allow ourselves to hurt. Allow ourselves to believe there is something better. Allow ourselves, when it's time, and when we can, to let it all go.