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The Five Stages of Grief

Who was Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and what are five stages of loss? How have these stages been applied to grief and grief counseling?

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The most common theory of grief processing is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's Stages of Loss theory. A Swiss psychiatrist who worked with dying people in hospitals, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross revolutionized how we think about the end of life. She later applied her stages to the process of grief. These stages can be experienced in any order, one at a time or several at once. Some people might go through all the stages; others may only experience some. The emotions of grief are very strong and hard to grapple with and some of these stages might be experienced several times before the griever feels a little better.

Kubler-Ross provided an invaluable service through her observations. Prior to her work with dying people, the medical profession virtually ignored the psychological, emotional, spiritual and interpersonal affects of dying, both on the patient and on their family. The work of Kubler-Ross opened the pathway for other grief researchers to develop more holistic ways of working with the bereaved. Currently, most grief counselors do not adhere to these stages, believing they are too passive and linear in nature. Yet her work provided a springboard for researchers, counselors and therapists that followed. It is important to understand the Five Stages of Loss and give them their rightful place within the spectrum of a person's unique approach to their own grief.

"The stages of grief have evolved since their introduction, and they have been very misunderstood...they were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides an overview and explanation of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stage model of grief. Developed after years of working with dying patients, Kubler-Ross observed that their emotional and psychological needs were not being addressed. Later, her model was applied to grief.