The stages of grief come from the world-renowned book “On Grief & Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. and David Kessler.
Stage 1 – Denial
Stage 2 – Anger
Stage 3 – Bargaining
Stage 4 – Depression
Stage 5 – Acceptance
Stage 6 – Meaning (Added after the original five)
Some grief experts dispute, renounce, and/or debunk the stages because they say Dr. Kübler-Ross, a psychiatrist, mainly worked with the dying. These grief experts say grief is not linear and grief is very individual.
What may make these claims confusing is many grievers feel they were helped by the book and the stages.
In this quote from the book, the authors are already saying the stages are not chronological and not everyone experiences all of them. Page 7 – “The stages have evolved since their introduction, and they have been very misunderstood. The five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost.”
There is also some confusion over the phrases in the book, “you will not get over the loss of a loved one” and “you will grieve forever” because the phrases were never meant to imply a person could not heal from grief and live fully again as explained in these book excerpts:
Page 10 – “Think about the idea that you can’t get over someone. It is more that you learn to live with the loss and not forget the person.”
Page 65 – “Today in our “shut up, get over it, and move on” mentality, our society misses so much, it is no wonder we are a generation that longs to tell our stories.”
Page 203 – “Our society places enormous pressure on us to get over loss.”
Page 225 – “I believe that grief and its unique healing powers take us from meaninglessness to meaningfulness. We do not get over our loss, we do not find recovery; we may find renewed meaning and enrichment for having known our loved one.”
Page 230 – “The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor should you want to.”
Page 206 – “If you do not take the time to grieve, you cannot find a future in which loss is remembered and honored without pain.”
Page 231 – “With the power of grief comes much of the fruits of our grief. We are allowing the power of grief and grieving to help us heal and live with the one we lost. That is the miracle of grief.”
Although many grievers live fully and even thrive after loss, they may periodically experience grief for the rest of their lives as people, places, and things remind them of their deceased loved one.