Grief is a feeling of great sadness expressed in different ways and for different reasons. It is a reaction to negative events or circumstances in life such as death or loss, which occurs in a number of emotions over time. A commonly accepted model of such emotions is the Kübler-Ross Model, developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-born American Psychiatrist who worked with terminally ill patients. Kübler-Ross’ model is one with five stages of emotions, namely: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Other sources like the website www.recover-from-grief.com claim the grieving process has seven stages.
A classic example of a person suffering great trauma and loss is the story of Job in the Bible, whose loss comes up because of his faith in God being tested. He loses all his children and almost all servants as well as all his wealth, which raiders stole. In addition to this, sores strike his own body from his head to his toe. Job starts the grieving process with the acceptance stage when he says, “...The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised” (The Bible, Job 1:21). He then gets to the bargaining stage where he wishes that “God would be willing to crush me...then I would still have this consolation...” (The Bible, Job 6:9-10), and proceeds to the depression stage where he says, “If only I had never come into being...” (The Bible, Job 10:19). Job has bouts of anger too as revealed in Job 21:7 where he wonders why the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power. Interestingly, Job does not really get to the denial stage and seems to have accepted his fate all though.
In Islam, there is a story in the Quran about a man called Yusuf who also does experience grief when his brothers abandoned him and sold him into slavery in Egypt. He reacts to his first misfortune initially by depression, wondering why his brothers would do such a wicked thing against him, and then while still in the well where his brothers dumped him, he quickly gets to the stage of acceptance. The website www.islamawareness.net records that “Joseph (Yusuf) surrendered himself to the will of his Lord”. He then gets to the house of the chief minister, the Aziz, where his (Aziz’s) wife, Zulaikha embarks on seducing him into an affair with her. He refuses and soldiers throw him to prison. In prison, he gets to the bargaining stage where he tells a fellow prisoner who was about to be released to remember him to the king once he gets his freedom. The stage of anger is evident when he refuses to get out prison unless declared innocent.
The process of grieving is ultimately geared towards healing the emotional wound brought about by calamity or loss (Worden, 2001). The final product of the process is joy and contentment. In the above models, the final stage includes acceptance and hope, which are precursors to joy. For one to get to the much-sought point of regaining joy, they must allow themselves to go through the naturally occurring stages of grief and never allow themselves to skip any stage, as it will only delay the healing process.
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In the above examples, Job and Yusuf both did faithfully go through the stages, which occurred to them naturally, and both their stories end in joy. Job has his health restored, his wealth restored to twice the earlier number and has the exact number of children he had before, his daughters being the most beautiful in the land. Yusuf on the other hand, finds restoration to the house of his master and made the chief minister, second only to the king himself. In this position, he is able to reunite with and help his family, from whom he had been estranged. Joy has finally come to him after successfully going through the process (Garrett, 2008).
Personally, I view grief as a good way of coming out of trauma, sadness and loss. It is a positive way of attaining closure concerning difficult situations in life, without which the loss or trauma would hold one ransom for an unnecessarily long time. My research has definitely changed my way of viewing grief, as I did not previously look at it in terms of stages. My previous thought on grief is that reflecting on the time spent with a departed person or a lost job, etc, coupled with shedding tears was enough to take one through the healing process. Now I am able to identify and determine movement across the individual stages and to track the healing process to its maturity.
In conclusion, then, I hold the opinion that the Kübler-Ross Model of grief is a positive one in dealing with loss and trauma. Grief is a normal reaction of everyone. People should not be afraid to express themselves through their pain because of the fear that others are not able to understand the situation. Instead, they should grieve in their own way and allow others to give them support they need to overcome the fears and pains. This way, grief can be a lighter burden whenever a person is going through tough times because he/she can depend on support from the people around.
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