The Lies You’ve Been Told About Grief: And a New Model to Replace It.

The five stages of grief, or in some texts seven stages, seems to me, to be one of the biggest lies ever fed to us in modern psychology. This one size fits all idea that we follow this path which leads us to an end goal with us being in acceptance at the end. They even go so far as to apply this model to all forms of major trauma, death, dying, divorce, loss, and rejection.

So here are the traditional stages, the Kübler-Ross Model:
1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Here is a modification into the seven stages of grief:
1. Shock and Denial
2. Pain and Guilt
3. Anger and Bargaining
4. Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness
5. The Upward Turn
6. Reconstruction and Working Through
7. Acceptance and Hope

While Kübler-Ross came out later in life and said the stages could occur in any order and sometimes people do not go through all the stages, the stages had already taken hold as a standard. Even in its improved form, I find it to be an oversimplification of grief.

So here is my model of loss and grief, I’m calling it the Balance Beam Model:

On how well you stay on your balance beam:
Everyone is a gymnast, and we all have our balance beam, all of us have different skill levels of being able to stay on the beam, and in the speed of moving through wobbles or getting up from falls. Some of us are born, or work our way, to having lower and wider beams, where we can wobble more without falling or just not hurt ourselves as bad when we do fall. But the key is that we are functioning when we are on our balance beam.  This balance beam represents our baseline for the intensity of emotion we can handle before we “fall off” or “stumble” and we are barely functioning or are debilitated.

Things that knock you off balance:
I postulate that rather than having stages, people have their go-to methods of negative emotions, how they deal with adverse conditions. These rather than changing type just vary in intensity until they fall below your baseline, where they just are less noticeable, hidden away in your mind, allowing for logic and positive thinking to take hold. The longer the time that passes, the easier to not think about the event, but they never truly go away.  Old events can rear their heads in unexpected ways in the future and will do so without regards to stages.
How events interact and a visual model of how we deal with grief.

Click image to enlarge.


Please tell me what you think. Is your experience closer to the Kübler-Ross model? Or the Balance Beam model?

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