Everyone knows the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross model of grief, even if they don’t know what it is called. This model, which was created to describe the process of dying and later applied to grief, states we experience grief in this order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s model was useful to open up awareness of death and dying. She challenged people to talk about death, not hide it. She challenged out society to not hide death away. She opened people’s awareness to the experience of dying and grief.
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross never intended her description of the dying experience to be turned into a rigid model. A model where you were expected to experience stages in a rigid order. A model that was quickly turned into a rigid model to describe grieving.
Nowhere in this idea that you experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance does it mention a very common experience of many bereaved people.
People describe fear. They describe anxiety. They describe panic attacks. They describe lost confidence. They describe being afraid to leave the house. They describe being afraid to be alone, especially at home.
C. S. Lewis, in his book “A Grief Observed”, written after the death of his wife, stated that he had not known that grief felt so much like fear.
So many people describe fear, anxiety, panic attacks, lost confidence. This fear and anxiety is a common part of the grief experience. Yet it is not recognised.
A lot of the anxiety and fear is due to the destruction of the sense of your world being safe and predictable.
Grief is traumatising. The experience of grief is very much the experience of trauma.
So many people are medicated for their anxiety. They see therapists who work on their anxiety. They feel defective. They sometimes feel they are not grieving properly because they are not following the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross model. They feel shame at what they assume is selfishness. They do not understand their anxiety is part of their grief.
For these people, what they are experiencing is a very natural and normal part of grief.
Elizabeth Kübler Ross’s model has been superseded by many other models of grieving. These models, rather than being adapted from a model of dying, are the result of much research and observation of people who are grieving.
It is also important to note that grief is not just about death. People grieve over the end of a relationship, over moving country, area, house, over losing your job, over being burgled, over losing a precious possession, over losing your health, over losing part of your body, over the death of a pet and many more. Anything you lose can be grieved over.
All people who have experienced a loss and are grieving are likely to be feeling anxiety and fear.
No you are not going mad. You are just grieving.
If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief and anxiety, please contact me on 0409396608 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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