Turn, Turn, Turn: When the Season is Grief

Below is a summary of some research on grief that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It modifies Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous five-step model of how we cope with loss. I’ve found it useful. The summary is from the The Atlantic magazine.

Researchers have long suspected that grief advances in stages, and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous five-step model of how people react to a terminal illness—denial followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance—is generally seen as the best way to understand the grieving process. Now a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association offers empirical data showing that a grieving person goes through a modified version of Kübler-Ross’s sequence: disbelief followed by yearning, anger, depression, and acceptance. The authors interviewed more than 200 adults in Connecticut who’d recently lost a loved one to natural causes, then followed them over two years. The participants were asked to report, at regular intervals, the frequency with which they felt each of the five emotions the researchers described. The results showed a surprisingly high, and steadily increasing, degree of acceptance throughout the grieving process; they also showed that yearning was the most commonly reported psychological response to bereavement. The five grief indicators tended to peak in the order predicted by the researchers, and to take an average of about six months all told to do so, suggesting that people who suffer a longer bereavement may want to seek help in recovering.
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—“An Empirical Examination of the Stage Theory of Grief,” Paul K. Maciejewski et al., Journal of the American Medical Association

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