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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tasks of mourning

Many people don't know that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's familiar stages of grieving—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—were conceived in the context of terminally ill patients learning to accept their own deaths. It wasn't until decades later that the model came to be used for the grieving process more generally.

It's one thing to “accept” the end of your own life… But for those who keep on living, the idea that they should be getting to acceptance might make them feel worse (“I should be past this by now”; “I don't know why I still cry at random times all these years later”).

Besides, how can there be an endpoint to love and loss? Do we even want there to be?

The price of loving so deeply is feeling so deeply—but it's also a gift, the gift of being alive. If we no longer feel, we should be grieving our own deaths.

The grief psychologist William Worden takes into account these questions by replacing stages with tasks of mourning.

In his fourth task, the goal is to integrate the loss into your life and create an ongoing connection with the person who died while also finding a way to continue living.

But many people come to therapy seeking closure. Help me not to feel. What they eventually discover is that you can't mute one emotion without muting the others.

You want to mute the pain? You'll also mute the joy.
Source: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

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