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A New-ish Grief Model


Day 68: The Grief Stages and Phases Abridged Model


Most people have heard of the 5 stages of Grief (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross), some have heard of the 4 Tasks of Mourning (William Worden), and even fewer have had exposure to the Dual-Process Model (Stroebe & Schut).


As a grief clinician, all of these grief phase models interest me deeply, and yet as a griever myself, I have learned that I absolutely don’t care what these models say, nor want to hear about the latest and greatest research on grief. I acknowledge that I have my own ways of navigating grief that are certainly not representative of the collective, yet I do see a pattern of reduced capacity early on in a grief process when our hearts are raw and we can barely remember what day it is which diminishes our ability to engage with where we are in our grief. For we are just in grief. It is that simple, and overwhelming, and brutal.


With that caveat, I still do offer something to my clients which is the most honest take on any grief task, phase, or stage model. I call it the Grief Stages and Phases Abridged Model.


Phase 1: Learning that what happened, actually happened.

Phase 2: Learning how to live with what happened.


Phase 1: This is the time it takes to fully take in that this event, this change, this death happened and this might take months, even years. We can know with our intellect that this took place, yet our hearts will take time to catch up—to actually feel the reality of our loss. Phase 1 is complicated and even expanded if the loss comes with several traumatic elements, as well as other stuck points such as guilt, regret, and self-judgements.


Phase 2: Once our hearts and minds have connected, it can bring about a new hit of reality. A new level of missing. A new capacity to remember the good times, which can spark a new level of pain. This phase includes such questions as where does this grief belong? How do I continue to honor my person without my grief overwhelming me everyday? What does it mean to live my current life alongside the grief that I feel? And this phase is also the evolution of grief—the acceptance of this being part of our lives forever.


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