Redefining the Grieving Process and Stages of Grief

redefining grief

Grief is a complex, deeply personal experience that affects everyone differently. The five stages of grief outlined by researcher Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her seminal 1969 book, On Death and Dying, have long shaped our understanding of how we process loss. While this model has provided comfort to many by illustrating a linear progression, the process of mourning a loss is not universal.

Reevaluating the Five Stages of Grief

Kübler-Ross developed her model by studying the emotions of terminally ill patients, which she eventually distilled into the well-known five stages. This model offers a sense of predictability by suggesting a straight line toward acceptance and healing.

However, grief is not a one-size-fits-all experience, and the suggestion that everyone will – or should – go through it in the same way seems increasingly reductive. Though this framework is reassuring to some, it may not adequately reflect the ups and downs of the road you are on.

Embracing Your Unique Grieving Process

Grief varies significantly from person to person. Some might feel intense bursts of anger or profound shame; others might not encounter these feelings at all. You may skip stages, loop back to previous emotions or feel prolonged, complicated grief, where acceptance seems perpetually out of reach.

The cultural expectation to mourn according to a prescribed model can lead to feelings of guilt or confusion, exacerbating your pain. If you feel pressured to conform to these stages, you may begin to question your natural response to loss, wondering if you are somehow incorrect.

While the five stages suggest a framework for understanding grief, they are not absolute. Instead of trying to adhere to a predetermined set of stages, give yourself time and space to mourn your loss in a way that feels right for you.

Healing for Women

At Rising Roads Recovery, we recognize the diverse experiences of grief and the limitations of a strict stages model. We encourage a more flexible, supportive approach that honors your unique path. By fostering an environment that acknowledges all emotions as valid, we help you find your way toward healing in your time, on your terms.

Grieving is not about crossing off items on a checklist; it’s about finding a way to live with loss, integrating the experience into your life and moving forward with acceptance and patience. Through years of research and hands-on work with clients, Rising Roads’ clinicians have identified the most successful evidence-based trauma treatments. We will help you and your family learn to make peace with yourselves and integrate what you learn with us into your life after treatment. Our team will meet you wherever you are and help you find your way out. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

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