I learned about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross very early in college while learning about the process of grief. The letters, “DABDA,” were ingrained into my brain, first as a study guide for a test. And later as a means of working with my dying clients and their families . It stands for denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This is the process of grief that Ms. Ross explains in many of her books. In particular the book, “On Death and Dying.” She was an incredible author and is well respected in the mental health community.
For many years, I related this griveing process to only those who were actively dying. But grief actually occurs during many other events throughout our lifespan. Most people grieve when we lose something of significance and value. Perhaps the loss of employment. The grief during a divorce. Having a miscarriage. Recieving a serious medical diagnosis that is life altering. The loss of innocence as a child due to extreme distress. The loss of a home. Or the recognition that life has not turned out like planned.
This type of grief isn’t typically spoken about. But I’m going to encourage you to embrace it for exactly what it is. That it’s okay. It’s normal. It’s even (dare I say) healthy. There should not be a time expectation for the grief process. Don’t force yourself through it to “move on” or to “forget about it.” Because when we don’t deal with things properly, they come back and haunt us. The unconscious doesn’t forget, and will remind us. Whether we want to be reminded or not. We can only “push back” issues for so long.
And in referring to the above quote by Kubler Ross, beauty comes from pain. The type of heart-wrenching pain that you can only understand after it happens. But not just from experiencing the pain, but from overcoming it. Battling things that are simply indescribable and that we never expected to happen during our lifetime. But is this grief ever really part of our plan? No. But it’s a part of life. We cannot prevent these things from occurring. But what we do with them, that’s a different story.
Beauty comes from our actions, behaviors, words, and thoughts. We can take a challenging situation and turn it into a learning experience. Embracing it and becoming stronger from it. Forgiving ourselves. Forgiving others who have hurt us. But I will save that process for another blog, because it’s a hefty one.
How do I do that? With Kubler Ross’s grieving process or simply DABDA. We typically go through shock and disbelief (denial), feeling resentful at people or the situation (anger), wishing or praying that things will change (bargaining), feeling sad and worthless (depression), and the understanding or finality of it (acceptance). Go through the process. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
I hope that you learn the lessons it teaches. I hope it changes you into a more kind, loving, empathethic, and understanding creature. I hope that you embrace it. And later, perhaps much later, share the wisdom that you gained from that process with others. Be kind. Be loving. Be a good friend. Be loyal. Be trustworthy. Be the person that you needed when you experienced it. And most of all, be beautiful.
Angie Simonton, LCSW