The conventional wisdom within the bereavement community for many, many years has been that our grief follows a pattern and goes through stages. On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, has been held up as the go-to reference for anyone seeking an understanding on this time in our lives. In recent years this has been challenged to a greater or lesser extent. Today we highlight two authors who contend that we need to revisit the five (5) stages and perhaps recognise that there is a great deal of diversity in the ways we grieve contingent on: age, background, beliefs, culture, gender, social networks and so on. It is not a one size fits all explanation.
The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss, by George A. Bonanno, Basic Books, 2009 opens up the field. Bonanno shares his research into the experiences of ordinary people who have lost a loved one, revealing how their personal journeys through the grief process differ remarkably from what most self-help books and the professional literature on grief describe.
Bonanno covers the traditional response to grief in Western culture, how grief many times is overcome with enlightened levity, the importance of resilience after losing a loved one, the importance of memories in the grief process, the strength that develops after overcoming a loss, and the importance of beliefs in various myths about the afterlife. For more see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/health/29book.html?_r=0
The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages, by Ruth Davis Konigsberg, Simon & Schuster, 2011 expands on this research. “Perhaps just the knowledge that our survival instinct is strong, and that a great many have not only endured terrible losses but have also thrived, can be a source of hope, something that I found to be quite scarce in our grief culture,” says Konigsberg (p. 197)
In a review by Julie Beischel, PhD Director of Research, Windbridge Institute, LLC she writes that Konigsberg really opened my eyes to numerous aspects of this topic including: the bereavement and grief counseling “industries,” grief memoirs, the grief culture, grief commercialism, how members of other cultures grieve, and grief related to the events of September 11th. The author states, “With this book I hope to offer you a means of escape from our habitual ways of thinking about grief”