HighPointe Notes

DEALING WITH LOSS AND GRIEF

Recently I revisited the work of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying.  In this book she proposed the now famous The Five Stages of Grief.  She presented the stages as a pattern of phases that most people tend to go through after being faced with a personal crisis.  These stages were given as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

We have been socialized to handle difficult and distressful situations in a certain manner.  Loss of a job, a desired relationship, an image or dream, loss childhood and financial setbacks or like events that present as difficult.  Maybe you have lost a child, spouse or parents by death and maybe even hope itself.

The manner in which many of us have handled these situations has not allowed many to gain the peace and joy that is desired.We live in a time that many are experiencing unresolved issues.

Week after week and year after year the inability to bring resolution to some life events seems to rob us of present and future happiness. Each time we "take a hit" in life or hear of someone else’s loss we revisit our own storehouse of unresolved issues. It is so much like having a wound that heals on the surface but every time you strike it again you feel the pain.

These nagging feelings of unhappiness are clearly at odds with the vitality, creativity and purpose you desire. There comes a time that one says "I want to rewrite my story, I want to uncover and cherish the exquisite, unique being that I am. I want to feel comfortable in a community of love, peace and joy.

This is a starting point, acknowledging that you want to make a change and being willing to engage in a process that will bring the desired result.  Change does require diligence.

Taking a quick review over my own life it occurred to me that I have engaged in The Five Stages of Grief several times.  Seeing my adult children move on, the death of a significant relationship along with the demise of a dream. I have stood helpless in the halls of the hospital as my grandchild was delivered still-born and also held the hand of my dying mother a few years later.  

Let me share with you what I and many others have learned.  Moving through these stages changes you.  You will experience transformative moments.  Transformation that occurs will change your levels of emotional resources.  These changes will allow you to appropriately bring resolution to unfinished business.  You exit the last stage "acceptance" a different person than the one that entered the “denial" stage.

Your perspective will be changed, moving from being self-centered and self-absorbed to being able to view yourself and the human landscape with more compassion and patience. The scars of your wound will be visible; however your emotional reactivity will be changed.  One word of warning, do not allow yourself to get stuck in a stage. If you discover that you are stuck, here are some suggestions.  Seek out a person that you can confide in and talk about your difficulty.  If this is not feasible for you, then learn to journal.  Write down your thoughts. 

I encourage you to engage in this "pattern of phases" and in addition to being a participant also be an observer of the increase in your emotional self of the love, joy and peace that before seems to be alluding you.

Author: Living, Loving and Growing -Jean L. Jones, LMFT, Women in Journey Copyright @2008 by InSpire, Demme Publishing, Nashville, TN

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