Sunday, May 31, 2009

More about the Kubler-Ross Model

The last blog entry I identified Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's 5 stages of grief. I think it is important to mention that this model has received criticism over the years. Most of the criticism comes from the model being developed for the terminally diagnosed patient, not necessarily for the bereaved family and friends. Some of the other criticism comes from misconceptions and misinterpretations of the stages. However, it is my opinion that this model can be helpful on the grief journey. Grief is not an easy journey. No two people will ever grieve the exact way. But, this model can offer insight into the grief journey.
First and foremost, do not consider this a linear model. So, do not expect to pass from stage 1, on to stage 2, then stage 3, etc. If you can, imagine the stages of this model being in a circle with no particular place to begin or end. There are no stages to "graduate" and no certain place to start the journey. The stages (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance) can be revisited, rearranged and even removed for some people.
Lastly, I would like to discuss the Acceptance stage. I feel there is a lot of misconceptions about this particular stage. For example, when someone is in the Acceptance stage it DOES NOT mean that they must be "okay" or "like" the loss of their loved one. In my mind the Acceptance stage is more about realizing and acknowledging the reality of the loss. So, it is more about the permanence of the loss and the griever finding a way to "settle" into their new life without their loved one. As well as, being able to integrate the loss/grief into their life and function without overwhelming feelings of loss consuming them.
Unfortunately life will never go back to what it was prior to the death. But, a new sense of normalcy and a return to hope can be achieved.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stages of Grief

As a Therapist and Grief Educator I am often asked about stages of grief. I am asked if there are stages of grief? What are the stages of grief? How long does each stage last? Why have I not experienced all the stages of grief? I get many questions in regards to the stages of grief. Therefore, I thought I would address the topic about stages of grief.

I do believe there are different stages in the grief process. There are many different professionals that will give you many different grief stages and definitions to stages. The stages that appeal to me the most are those set forth by legendary Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

I have always admired the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She first introduced her model in her book "On Death and Dying" back in 1969. Kubler-Ross was a medical doctor that worked with terminally diagnosed and dying patients. She determined that there are 5 stages of grief. Those stages being: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Originally the Kubler-Ross Model/Stages were used with the terminally diagnosed and dying patient. However, many believe that these same 5 stages can be applied to anyone suffering a loss and/or catastrophic event. I personally believe the 5 stages can offer a simple explanation to a grieving person. With that being said, I would also like to point out that the stages do not necessarily come in a specific order. It is also important to note that some people may not experience every stage. I view the stages as a circular model that can be changed, rearranged and revisited. Therefore, don't expect to graduate a stage and head on to the next stage.

Unfortunately, there isn't a model of stages of grief that fits everyone. But, I have found the stages set forth by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross can offer an uncomplicated explanation of grief to most people.

So, how long does each stage last? Well, that is a great question. But, it doesn't have a set answer. Each person will experience the stages in different ways and in their own time. The stages of grief will last however long it takes. Every person has a unique history and set of circumstances that they bring with them into the grieving process. Therefore, each person must realize their situation and grief process will vary from person to person. You will find similarities among grievers, yet each person's journey will be unique.

The most important thing to recognize during the grieving process is to be able to discern whether or not you need professional support for your grieving process. Some people are able to walk the journey alone. While others benefit from seeking support from friends, support groups, and/or mental health professionals. You do not have to walk this journey alone. Seeking help/support does not mean you are weak. In my opinion it shows you are being active in finding helpful ways to heal. Remember, you have a broken heart...not necessarily a broken mind.

Lastly, if you find the 5 stages of grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross interesting, I encourage you to do further research. I only listed the stages. She wrote many books on the stages with great detail of each stage. So, check with your local libray, bookstore or web for more information. If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to post a question and/or leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grief and Bereavement Experience

I attended University of Florida's Arts in Medicine program and it changed my life. The program was amazing and confirmed what I had always known, art/creativity is healing. The program was amazing and taught me how to use art with people that were sick and/or hospitalized. Many of these patients had life-limiting illnesses. The artists in residence at Shands Hospital would bring creativity into the hospital rooms and waiting rooms. The mood in the rooms would change! For many, the creativity improved their mood and most importantly gave them an avenue to express themselves. I "graduated" this program a different person. I had acquired more meaning in my life, in the duration of the program, than I had gained my whole life. When I left the program, I knew I wanted to work with Hospice and use Expressive Arts to help people through their losses. I also decided that I wanted to be able to pair a talk therapy model with the Expressive Arts. Therefore, I enrolled in Nova Southeastern University's Marriage and Family Therapy Program. I completed the program and landed an internship and job at a local Hospice.

I had an amazing supervisor and mentor at Hospice, Carolyn Amaral, LCSW. She took me under her wing and taught me the ropes of anticipatory grief (before the death occurs) and bereavement counseling. I gained so much great experience working with the Hospice families. They taught me more than any classroom or textbook could ever provide. I am forever grateful to the Hospice patients and families. The patients and families were always appreciative of the in-home Expressive Art sessions mixed with counseling. I soon learned that Expressive Arts was an amazing tool to have as a therapist. I was able to witness everyday how that creativity allows the person to let down their boundaries and talk freely about their concerns, fears, worries, etc. I had finally discovered my passion in life..........HELPING PEOPLE HEAL THEIR BROKEN HEARTS. How can life get better when you are able to witness the broken hearted return to a sense of hope after a major loss or life transition???? I found my niche and my life work. I am devoted to grief/loss/bereavement work. I am passionate about helping people through these major life transitions.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Welcome to this new blog, Grief Sanctuary. I believe today is a very important day to begin this blog. Today is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is not just a day that begins the summer with family gatherings, picnics, grilling, swimming, etc. It was originally called Decoration day and traditionally was a day set aside to honor fallen veterans. I encourage you, on this day, to remember the veterans that have fallen and to pause for a moment to remember your loved ones that have passed.

On this day I dedicate this posting to my grandfather, Bobby Rowe ("Papaw"). He was a World War II Veteran. "Papaw" was a hero in my eyes and a huge influence in my life. I miss our times together....yet, I feel his presence often.

Wishing all you Peace, Comfort and Hope on this day.

Welcome to Grief Sanctuary


Welcome to Grief Sanctuary. This blog is dedicated to grief/loss/bereavement topics. This is a place dedicated to provide information and education about grief. Most importantly this is a place where mourning is considered a natural response to loss.

We all experience loss in our lives. Unfortunately loss is not recognized or talked about much in our culture. Most often death or loss is considered a taboo topic. I am on a mission to change those deep rooted beliefs. I grew up in the hills of eastern Kentucky. Death was common and not hidden from children. My family taught us that death was a natural part of life and grieving was a normal process. I suppose a lot of that had to do with both my Mother and Father losing a parent at a young age. They were seasoned grievers during my upbringing. Thankfully, they taught me and my brother that grieving a loss is a way of life and you can seek ways to adjust.

A bit about myself......My name is Misti Hall and I grew up in Virgie, Kentucky. I currently reside in Florida and Kentucky. I attended Univeristy of Florida's Arts in Medicine program and earned a Master's degree from Nova Southeastern University in Marriage and Family Therapy. My passion is helping the broken hearted heal. It is my wish for everyone to experience "A Return to Hope" after their loss. It is possible.