Helpful insight on grief and grieving with Christine DeCristofaro, LMFT
Our world has dramatically changed. We are grieving. We are grieving the loss of our freedoms, a predictable future, and our lives before COVID-19.
In her book, On Grief and Grieving, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross gives us insights into the process of how human beings grieve which includes the 5 Stages of Grief:
  1. Denial – Rejection intellectually and emotionally of what is clear and obvious to avoid pain.
  2. Anger – Feeling anger is empowering. We move towards anger to gain a sense of control.
  3. Bargaining – As denial lossens we begin to accept some aspects of reality but still hold on to some illusions to maintain our sense of control.
  4. Despair – Is when reality sets in. We feel depressed and hopeless. Believing our attempts at bargaining have failed.
  5. Acceptance – Occurs when we finally acknowledge and surrender to the facts. We can stop denying and fighting reality and start dealing effectively with what has and is happening.

These stages are not fixed; they are fluid. For some people, grieving may follow a set pattern, and for others, it may not. Some people may experience variations such as combining stages, or skipping one or more stages altogether. You may be in one stage for a short time, while another person may feel stuck in one.  These are all normal.  Grieving is personal, even when it is collective.  It is a journey towards healing and transformation. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

Since no one can simply fix our current circumstance, perhaps by normalizing and giving some perspective with the 5 Stages of Grief, we can begin to really understand what we are going through.  This understanding and acceptance will lead to relaxation – a gentle easing of stress, tension, worry, or anxiety.  This relaxation cultivates compassion for ourselves and others. It softens us.  Our compassion will transform our grief into healing energy that will not only feed ourselves, but those around us.  We can trust that we will get through this.

Christine DeCristofaro is Licensed Marrage & Family Therapist and resident teacher and volunteer at Ratna Ling Retreat Center.  For more information, please read Christine’s Faculty Bio on our website.