January 4, 2023

So, your life just changed. 

Whether the transition involves an anticipated or planned change or whether it was totally unexpected or an ‘off time event,’ there is an element of loss. 

For the last 15 years of my nursing practice, I worked in hospice.  After the death of a loved one, I would often share with the bereaved person that grief may be like the gentle ripple of water upon the shore, or  it may be like the massive wave of a tsunami. It can hit us as a gentle reminder, or it can slam against us and knock us down.  What is important here is recognizing the elements of grief we experience, as we let go of what we knew and begin to create something new.

In 1969 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first proposed five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Then, in 1992, Dr. Kenneth J. Doka added hope to the stages of grief, recognizing many individuals find it helpful to have something to look forward to after loss. 

I prefer to use the word phases versus stages when discussing how we experience grief.  For me, stages suggest grief occurs as a series, or step-by-step order or process for maneuvering through grief, while phases suggest a more dynamic evolving process. It is now recognized that grief involves moving back and forth between the different states or phases.  What is important to remember is they are simply guidelines, and we each experience loss differently. 

Regardless of terminology, grief involves the roles we take on, our emotions, and our actions.  Grief is a part of the journey through our life transitions.  In my model for navigating life transitions, I address elements of grief as we move the model. 

Stay tuned!