Those 5 Pesky Stages of Hard Change to Traumas

I imagine many of you through studies or life experiences are familiar with the ‘grieving process’ or the ‘five stages of grieving death’. They are alway worth a review because as it turns out they are stages that often impact us beyond losing a loved one. Trauma impacts us on many fronts, sometimes even on multiple, simultaneous levels. 

It is easy in the emotional swirl and seeking someplace to hide, that we don’t want to study anything. We don’t want advice. We don’t believe we can focus beyond the next drink, the next pill, the next distraction that helps us cope, helps us avoid facing anything in our mind, heart, soul.

The origin of the proposal of these stages is often attributed to Elisabeth Kübler Ross. It is well worth a look-see to either refresh our awareness in self or loved ones or as a new tool to look at when we are finally ready to challenge the changes that have knocked us off kilter. They are offered as positive bench marks to move through, not stay immersed in. Everyone is different, but we all move through these stages. Marked, scarred, changed, but wiser and in time stronger.


 five stages of grief – elisabeth kübler ross

EKR stage Interpretation
1 – Denial Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It’s a defence mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.
2 – Anger Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgemental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.
3 – Bargaining Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve attempting to bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example “Can we still be friends?..” when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it’s a matter of life or death.

4 – Depression

Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it’s the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the ‘aftermath’ although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It’s a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It’s natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.
5 – Acceptance Again this stage definitely varies according to the person’s situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.

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