Five Stages of Grief

Looking at the Five Stages of Grief theorized by Kubler-Ross, I begin to realize that these stages not only quite accuratlely describe what one goes through during the loss of a love one (or even excepting ones own mortality when faced with a terminal illness), but it also describes what one may go through when faced with other losses that are hard to accept, including accepting that one is addicted to a substance.

I mention the latter because it was while leading a group therapy session for substance abuse that I realized this.

The five stages of grief basically are, 1) Denial, 2) Anger, 3) Bargaining, 4) Depression and finally 5) accepance. These stages don’t necessarily, but usally fall in this order.

If your boss comes to you and tells you that in two weeks they are eliminating your position and you therefore are out of a job you might at first not want to believe that is true, then after it becomes closer to a reality you might get angry with your boss, the company, yourself and then you might start praying to God to keep you from losing your job, or anxiously and perhaps desperately trying to find a way out of the situation, when you realize it is inevitable, you may go into a depression but eventually you will accept the reality for what it is and do what you have to do to cope with the situation.

With the guys in my substance abuse therapy, helping them see why they felt what they felt and helping them deal with it seemed to have a tremendous affect on helping them come to grips with their addiction and to start facing it head on instead of denying or avoiding it.

The reason I bring this to your attention today is to stimulate your mind and give you something to think about the next time you or someone else is going through some personal loss, rather it is infertility, a break up, or facing a long jail sentence. Understanding why you feel the way you feel goes a long way in coping with and stopping the pain and coming out of it a more enlightened and intouch person.

Under the Surface

One of the most fascinating things about humans and human behavior, is that we consciously or unconsciously cover things up or make things appear different then what they really are. We do this for several reasons, but often it is to protect ourselfs from some conceived threat (psychoanalyst would say to protect ourselves from something that threatens the ego)… this is often better called fear, anxiety, anger or depression. Often it is easier to deal with what’s on the surface, than what’s underneath the surface in an effort to avoid those feelings, but what is underneath the surface is the real issue and what really needs to be discussed. I’ll give you a quick example.

Suppose that you and your mate are constantly arguing over how he/she manages the household bills. You don’t like the way they decides how income brought into the house is and isn’t spent. You guys are constantly arguing over the bills, getting upset with each other and nothing ever changes. Maybe your mate doesn’t even understand why you are getting so upset and perhaps, you don’t either. Well perhaps it is because the household bills is the surface problem, the safe problem to argue about, but what’s underneath that, if you look deeper, is the real problem, what really needs to be addressed and changed in order for things to change and get better in the realtionship. Perhaps the real problem is that your spouse paying the bills, controlling the way income that comes in and out of the house is spent is making you feel controlled, unappreciated, like a child… the list of possiblities are endless, but the truth and the root of the problem is there if you look under the surface and I promise you, that if you do this, you will stop arguing or worrying about petty things and tackle the tough truth and meat of the problem which, although may be harder to look at and deal with, will make you a much healthier and happier person once it is dealt with.

So stop arguing over the way your spouse is driving if the truth really is you just don’t want to go their family reunion, your sisters wedding across country or to the football game when you’d rather stay home. Stop arguing over the way your wife doesn’t cook if the real issue is you wish she were more attentive to your needs. Examples are endless, but give looking under the surface a try and see if it won’t help you to become less angry, depressed and anxious and at the same time give you greater insight into yourself and your relationships.