Wild Grief: 360° of Grief

Published 12 months ago • 3 min read

A weekly newsletter delivering sibling loss specific grief resources, support and validation, coping strategies, sibling loss stories, news from The Broken Pack, and much more- including exclusive content and opportunities for subscribers.

Hello, Reader!

You have likely heard of the five stages of grief. You may even know that it was founded by psychiatrist, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Here’s the thing: there are no true stages of grief. For one thing, Dr. Kübler-Ross designed the model to assist individuals to come to terms with their own terminal illness and the process of dying. And, even Dr. Kübler-Ross stated that using it in this way to process death of a person other than self was not the intent of the model.

Sure, there can be similarities, but as you may be well aware, these stages do not really feel congruent with the experiences of the bereaved person grieving the death of a loved one (or even many non-death losses).

For another thing, this model and how it has been taught -even in many graduate counseling, psychology, or social work programs- implies that you go neatly from one stage to the next and then the next and so on until you reach the end. By nature, if you could go through all of the stages, you could finish grief.

Well, that’s ludicrous.

Grief does not end.

Well, now, I am sounding a bit like a party pooper. Aren’t I?

Here is the thing: Grief is also way more than sadness, depression, and all the “traditional” emotions we associate with grieving.

Sure, don’t get me wrong. Those emotions are certainly part of grief, but grief itself is comprised of all of the reactions to loss you have.

Doesn’t that feel freeing? Wait what? Freeing? Stick with me.

In learning to live with grief, we can make room for all of the emotions. Yes, even joy. We must learn to live with the unexpected waves of sadness, pain, anger, devastation, etc. But in doing so, we will also learn to experience the other emotions. They may also be unexpected- or even unwelcome. Gosh darn it, some days I just want to cry, be mad, and be sad! (I’m not alone in that, am I?) But then some days- even those days- something will make me chuckle ( and often even when I am thinking bout the goofball my brother was at times).

This doesn’t mean that I am not grieving. It doesn’t mean I have “finished grief’ which is simply impossible.

What it means is that my grief looks and feels different that day! I am free to live my day and let whatever I happen to experience that day be. I don’t need to fight it. That - being, just being- is so freeing.

So, when that smile or laugh that slips past your lips, it’s okay.

Let’s think about grief as a sphere. Sometimes, we are really tiny are on one side of the really large sphere and we can only see one thing but are missing most of the view. We focus on what we can see and it may feel overwhelming.

Other times, we are bigger than the sphere and can manage it, hold it, and see much more of it. Some days it will feel heavy. Some days it will feel very light and fit in our pocket. Some days we won’t even want to look at it. Some days it is rough. Some days it is smooth.

The constant: it is always there.

Okay. But, how do you do that?

More on that next issue, for sure. For now, just take a moment and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What are your five senses in tune with? Just notice all of these. Just be. Don’t fight these things. Just be present with yourself.

Sit here as long as you like- just being.

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I'm Dr. Angela Dean, a sibling loss survivor, a thanatologist, and a psychologist in private practice. I'm also the founder & owner of The Broken Pack™, an organization supporting adult survivors of adult sibling loss. We are also committed to supporting survivors and educating others on sibling loss and grief. Sign up to receive our newsletter, WIld Grief, to stay up to date!

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