Have you ever lost someone close to you to death? We go through a grief process that was best described by Elizabeth Kublar-Ross in On Death and Dying. In it she talks about the five stages that people go through—denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression and finally acceptance. The dying, as well as those who love them, go through these stages although rarely at the same time and these stages are not predictable.
You may think you are in the anger phase, then jump to depression and then, back to denial again. There is no rhyme or reason—only what feels right for each individual at the time. No one can predict how long a phase will last. If you are grieving and some well-meaning person suggests that you shouldn”t be feeling what you are feeling, kindly thank them for their concern but know that you are exactly where you need to be.
However, with grief, sometimes you will become aware of something not feeling right. You may think, “I should be over this by now” or “I don”t like feeling this way.” When you, yourself, recognize that it is time to move beyond where you are at, trust that feeling as well.
I”d like to talk about grief from a Choice Theory perspective. This will probably take several posts to make sense of it all. I need to start with the Choice Theory expression that all behavior is purposeful since grief is really just a behavior in choice theory terms. Choice theory tells us that everything we do at any point in time is our best attempt to get something we want—some picture we have in our Quality World that will meet one or more of our needs in some way. Grief is no exception.
Once you understand that all behavior is purposeful and that grief is a person”s best attempt to get something they want, then it becomes easier to know what to do about it. What could we possibly be trying to get by grieving? Most people would say that there isn”t a choice. When someone we love dies, we have to grieve. I say it is natural that we will miss the person”s presence in our life but it isn”t inevitable that we have to grieve, not in the way most people think of grieving.
The first thing I believe that we are trying to get with our grief is the person who died. When we grieve, it is our best attempt to keep that person alive, at least in our perceived world. We know they no longer exist in the physical world as we know it. However, if we continue to think about them, pine for them, grieve their presence, then it keeps the thought of that person active in our perception and it feels better to us than the total void or absence of the other person.
Another possible advantage of grief is that it shows others just how much we cared for and loved the person who died. I”m not suggesting that people are being manipulative in their grief. What I am saying is that there is a side benefit to grief in that it shows others how much we cared. It also says, “See what a good ___________ I was.” Fill in the blank with husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, sister, brother, etc.
Grief is also instrumental in getting us the support we need from others during our time of bereavement. People do things for us that we would normally be expected to do ourselves. Again, please don”t think that I am suggesting that a grieving person wakes up an