Grief is such a dark concept. It has the ability to envelope a person with darkness and burden which may push down his or her soul into a state of inconsolable anguish.
Many real life experiences of having to deal with death have taught the world that there are things which are hard to cope with. Grief, no matter what its causes, has been a dreaded experience due to the profound and dreary sentiment associated with it.
Grief may also cause fear and distress to its victims, rendering them incapable of appreciating the light and the pleasant bounties of life since their eyes are blinded by the sorrow they are feeling. Indeed, grief is always a painful process to go through.
This process of grieving was explored and expounded by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1973). Her explanation deals with the grief experienced by people during a death of a loved one. She looked at grief as a process wherein people experience difficulty in different intensity and levels. In her book On Death and Dying, Kübler-Ross (1973) enumerated five stages of grief.
The Denial stage, which is the first of the five stages, is the event when the grieving person rejects the fact of the cause of grief. This is often manifested when an individual grieves at the loss of a loved one. The death is usually denied, for the grieving person often finds it hard to accept the painful truth of loss in the beginning (Kübler-Ross, 1973).
The second stage is Anger. In this stage, the grieving person will usually question fate or even God for subjecting him or her to a harsh experience. Once a person deals with grief, he or she usually tries to think whether the experience is a punishment for any misdeed in the past or a mere injustice of fate (Kübler-Ross, 1973).
After anger, Bargaining happens. People who are already in this stage of grief will try to compromise or exchange something valuable for the chance of getting over grief immediately. Grief can come to a point when desperation of moving on will occupy an individual and cause him or her to do anything just to overcome the experience.
The fourth stage, according to Kübler-Ross (1973), is Depression, the stage when the grieving person will feel like he or she does not want to care anymore because of numbness and exasperation. Finally, Acceptance eventually comes. This is the point when the person starts to prepare for the things that may come (Kübler-Ross, 1973).
In several ways, John Bowlby, who has also been prominent in discussion about grief, supported Kübler-Ross’ perspectives. Just like Kübler-Ross, he sees the grief process as aiming to get to a resolution point where everything will just end (Christianson & Johnson, 2001).
Moreover, together with C. Murray Parkes, Bowlby (n.d.) presented an outline of the grief process similar to Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief (cited in Christianson & Johnson, 2001). This outline contains the following: “1) shock and numbness; 2) yearning and searching; 3) disorientation and disorganization; and 4) resolution and reorganization” (cited in Christianson & Johnson, 2001, n.p.).
Considering the stages of the theories of Kübler-Ross and Bowlby, it could be assumed that, although people experience the levels of grief at varying intensity and duration, their grief will only come to pass with acceptance and resolve to overcome the grieving process.
This process of grief, especially the stage of anger, was clearly depicted in C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed. Using his personal experience when he lost his wife, he described grief as a state wherein difficult questions may seem to surface in the grieving person’s mind, and that he or she tends to direct these questions towards God, the One who seems to make everything happen.
Lewis’ experiences reflect the reality that people tend to question God whenever they lose a loved one since they would think He is the only one who has the ability to make such painful things happen. His story presents the idea that people oftentimes find God unwelcoming compared to times when people seek him for praise and thanksgiving.
“When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him […] if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face.” (Lewis, 1963, p. 5)
Considering the aforementioned thoughts and perspectives about grief, it can be inferred that grief is a natural yet very difficult process every person may go through anytime.
More than the chance to recover immediately, it appears that people experiencing grief also need enlightenment and guidance since the grief tends to cloud up their minds by questions and thoughts of injustice which can sometimes be very deceiving.
Perhaps, grief must be faced, and a person must indeed face it with utmost strength and belief in him- or herself that he or she will be able to go through it. While it leaves painful memories, grief must also be seen as a learning experience that teaches people to give importance to everything and everyone that they have while they still exist. This is because only when something or someone is lost that its or his/her value will be realized, and this is the moment when grief will be most painful.
Christianson, C. & Johnson, V. (2001). The Grief Process. Birth Defects Genetics Center. Retrieved February 12, 2009 from http://www.usd.edu/med/som/genetics/curriculum/4DGRIEF4.htm.
Kastenbaum, R. Acute Grief. Death Reference. Retrieved February 12, 2009 from http://www.deathreference.com/Gi-Ho/Grief.html
Kübler-Ross, E. (1973). On Death and Dying. Great Britain: Tavistock Publication Limited.
Lewis, C. S. (1963). A Grief Observed. New York: Seabury Press.