Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What Kubler-Ross Never Said

Book after book, and class after lecture, has given Elizabeth Kubler-Ross credit for something that she never said, and as a consequence penalized people who were grieving.

You know the famous five stages of grief. Perhaps you too were told that your grief was "incomplete" or "delayed" or "out of order". You may even have been prescribed medications or therapies because your grief didn't quite fit the timeline or order of the Kubler-Ross process.

Like any urban legend or quasi-scientific fact it is much harder for the truth to stick as tightly as the error.

So: Elizabeth Kubler Ross never said that people grieving the loss of a loved one would go through five stages. She never said there was a direction to those stages, nor did she give a suggested timeline. In fact, she didn't work with people who were grieving the death of their loved ones.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross worked with people who were terminally ill--who were in fact, themselves, dying. It is those dying people that she studied, observed and wrote about. It is the dying of whom she suggested there may be stages to how they process their diagnosis and the consequent dying.

Can you imagine the grief we have caused in saying to someone who has lost a loved one, "You are in denial, or bargaining, or in the anger stage--soon you will get to acceptance"? No wonder people who grieve --healthfully--for many years choose to stay silent. What amend can we make?

Ah, but here comes an article on another way of supporting someone who is grieving. In the New York Times article below by Patrick O'Malley, we see a therapist take a new view of "delayed grief" and more correctly understand depression associated with grieving.

Read on and please do share this one.
Here's the link:

And forgive Elizabeth Kubler-Ross for what she never said.

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