Some Sundays (and throughout the week, for that matter) the prayer concerns in our congregation are many. Sometimes when times are difficult in one’s life or faith community, it’s helpful to consider how grief plays out. One tool for understanding grief was developed by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in On Death and Dying. She noted that there are Five Stages of Grief, though the stages aren’t stops on some linear progression and not everyone goes through all of them. Grief is better understood as cyclical and there’s not a proper “timeline” to feeling the losses we experience in our lives.
Dr. Kubler-Ross related that the Stages of Grief are:
- Denial: helps us survive the loss, feel numb or shocked, wonder how we can go on
- Anger: we ask why questions (even of God), underneath the anger is pain
- Bargaining: we become lost in a maze of “if onlys” or “what ifs”, remain in the past trying to negotiate our way out of pain
- Depression: we feel in a fog of intense sadness, the loss settles in our soul
- Acceptance: we learn to live with the loss and the new norm, begin to move/change/grow/evolve
These are obviously short and incomplete explanations. Mostly what I’ve been thinking about this week is that grief is hard, simple as that. Sometimes a recent loss triggers a past loss. Sometimes we find that grief hits us out of nowhere. And sometimes we may need to just understand how grief works and how we’re feeling so that we understand what’s happening inside of us. When grief comes, be gentle on yourself. And let’s be gentle with one another, knowing that grief is hard, simple as that.