Blog: Riding the Waves of Grief

On grief, resilience, and healing

The Five Stages of Grief: Do they still apply, and to whom?

Grief descends on anyone who is facing loss. We most often think first of a person who has lost a loved one to death, but grief does not restrict its reach. Before the loved ones are visited by grief, It first has affected the person who is ill with a life-threatening condition, who is facing both the disease and possibly a shortened time on earth. In fact, the five stages of grief that are so often called up to explain grieving started out almost 50 years ago as the result of interviews with hospital patients with life-threatening conditions. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was on a mission to change the attitude of physicians of the day who were reluctant to even discuss end-of-life iss

A mourning ritual from another culture, another time

Humans in every culture, in every time have found their ways to grieve. On a trip to New Zealand, I discovered one that was brought forward to current times I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention. ~ Diane Sawyer The Auckland Hop On Hop Off bus was transporting us through our last full day in New Zealand. We had already seen the grass-covered cone of an extinct volcano that sits above the city. I snapped a photo of my daughter peering into the top, while we tried to imagine what it had looked like 60,000 years ago when it was spewing lava. We couldn’t. We’d also passed a suburban park with its own sheep, chomping grass within feet of the busy

Facing Fathers Day without a father

Father’s Day does not mean the same thing to everyone. The first time I ever paid attention to it was in 4th grade. Before that, lacking a father, I overlooked it. That year however, suddenly there was an art project that everyone had to do. (Note to younger readers: this was back in the day when every family in the neighborhood was a two-parent family. Actually, I knew one other family who had no dad and we became fast friends. Unfortunately, none of those kids was in my 4th grade class so I was on my own.) The teacher announced that we were to draw a head shot of our fathers with crayon on a giant piece of art paper, at our desks, right then. We would take them home at the end of the day s

Who are the Grief Police and how can you resist arrest?

Little-known fact: The Five Stages of grief are the source of almost-fifty years worth of conventional wisdom about grief. But they were meant to describe the end-of-life experience of people with life-threatening illness, not the experience of mourners who have lost a loved one. Not until a later, curious, and convenient but not scientifically vetted melding of the two experiences took place, that is. The stages idea came from a series of interviews performed by the now-iconic physician Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. They came as a pretty seat-of-the-pants summary of what she’d heard from these patients, and were not presented for peer-review as would be expected for a major new entry into the unde

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