Stages of Loss
“Dying is something we human beings do continuously, not just at the end of our physical lives on this earth.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Whenever we experience any type of loss we go through the ‘five stages of grief’ or pattern of adjustment as originally designed in the grief cycle model by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Hospice pioneer and author of book On Death and Dying. This model is also known as ‘five stages of loss’.
As a Hospice trained Caregiver, and Trauma Counsellor this model has formed a vital foundation for my work, and its helped my clients gain a far better understanding of what they’re unwittingly experiencing. Please feel free to share this page with your loved ones so they too can benefit, and should they need assistance, feel free to reach out.
Originally this model was intended to describe the process a patient goes through when informed of a terminal illness. But, although this model is largely applicable to death, dying or terminal illness it can also be applied to different emotional traumas for example, relationship break up, a crime (hijacking or abuse), retrenchment, an accident or the more mundane loss of a set of keys or cell phone etc. As you read through the five stages, you’ll probably become aware and recognise how these steps can be applicable to your individual circumstances. The model was designed to help people understand what is happening so that dealing with their loss can be a little easier.
The five stages of loss or grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are not linear nor are they equal in experience. People tend to go through most of these, although not always in sequence and some stages might be revisited. The transition between stages should actually be seen as more of an ebb and flow than a rigid or linear progression.
The five stages are:
This is the “I feel fine!” or “This cannot be happening; not to me!” stage. The experience results in shock, disbelief and or confusion: you cannot believe what has happened. Denial is usually only a temporary defence mechanism and is a perfectly natural reaction as the body protects you against your feelings. Denial is a conscious or subconscious refusal to accept facts or the reality of the situation and this leaves one feeling powerless, frozen or numb. These feelings are often replaced with a heightened awareness or situations.
This is the “Why Me?”, “Who is to blame?” or “This is not fair!” stage. You could be angry at yourself and or with others, especially those close to you. Your anger could also be because of a wrong decision, loosing control, the doctors, life, family, society or even God. This may also present as rage, resentment, irritation or snappiness. At times envy or jealousy may become prevalent because this happened to you and not someone else. We use anger when we hurt inside, and fear getting more hurt, so we hold people away from us. When angry we feel out of control within, and therefore try controlling everyone around us. Knowing or having an understanding of this is helpful to others (friends, family or colleagues) to be patient and understanding when a grieving person lashes out in anger.
This is the “Yes, but …” or “If only, …” stage. This stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death, and this may include bargaining with life or whatever God the person believes in i.e. “I’ll promise I’ll be a better person if …” or “Please just let me live until ….” Bargaining is to find meaning to what’s happening or to justify and become part of the process. You may feel it’s necessary to gain a second opinion, or try a new diet or want to dedicate your life to God in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. In other words, you’ll try other methods of coping. People facing trauma in a relationship break-up might ask for friendship in the bargaining phase. In one’s search for hope and meaning this is a wonderful and creative stage. Hope is reliance on the future that protects us from the ‘now’ which is too painful.
This is the “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” or “I’m going to die … what’s the point?” stage. The emotions in this stage vary from person to person and could involve sadness, regret, guilt, fear, numbness, fatigue, feeling alone, trapped, exposed or naked. If facing death, this shows the person has at least begun to accept facing the reality which may mean that death is certain. This is normal and should not be feared: this is where the emotional work gets done. The person may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of their time alone crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themselves from things or people of love and affection.
This is the “It’s going to be OK”, “I am ready, I don’t want to struggle any more” or “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it” stage. Some emotional detachment and objectivity begins to surface, and this is where we can see the gift of the experience. This final stage comes with peace and understanding, death is approaching. Generally, the person in this stage may want to be left alone. Also, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent and people dying can enter this stage for a long time. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle. For those grieving the loss of a loved one, this can be the time where they being to re-enter a more ‘normal’ social life and are ready to start moving forwards.
Using powerful body centered, and holistic techniques such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or ‘tapping’ assists people facing any emotionally devastating loss to release these raw, painful or unpleasant emotions naturally and spontaneously. As the name Emotional Freedom Techniques implies, freedom is gained … freedom from discomfort, pain, suffering and loss etc.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or ‘tapping’ is innate in our body’s healing system – it’s something we do quite unconsciously virtually every day of our lives! To gain a better understanding of this, see How EFT works.
Working together with a facilitator such as myself, should be seen as a co-operative journey to self discovery; where your real magnificence lies.
What Clients Say?
“I have to recommend this service to all. I was a Cargo Manager at the Johannesburg International Airport, where in the early hours of the morning my staff fell victim to an armed robbery. They were very traumatized and one had to be admitted to hospital after being assaulted by one of the perpetrators. I got in touch with Bridget who came to give counselling to the staff. she was great and the feedback from her and the staff was amazing. It wasn't costly and did not require a follow up session as the staff were in a good space after the first session. If you find yourself or your staff in need of counselling, don't hesitate to contact Bridget.”
“A few years ago I was really struggling with public speaking fears - I know this is career limiting but couldn't help myself. My fears, anxiety and the stress really got the better of me one evening at an event. Bridget saw my distress, and offered to help. I couldn't believe how quickly she helped, within minutes I felt absolutely calm and relaxed. I've subsequently delivered many presentations with ease, even enjoying it. I MC'd my friend's wedding with ease too. I highly recommend Bridget to help you overcome your fears and phobias - she's excellent.”
“Bridget is sharply observant of the source of one's stresses and strains and is immensely enthusiastic and motivational in helping one deal with challenges in all arenas of life. So glad she is a consultation away #gratitude.”
“Bridget was my life line when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The anti stress techniques she taught me were invaluable and she was a text away anytime i needed her. I’m so grateful to know I have you on speed dial.”
“I could have never imagined that a powerful tool like this existed. From one session, I had a life changing experience where anxiety, stress and fear was a normal part of my daily routine to a clam clear and collected way of conducting my day. Even more amazing was that EFT was not a temporary solution but a lasting feeling that I still have a week later. EFT has empowered me to take control of so many aspects of my life with confidence and make life so much more enjoyable!”
“Hi Bridget, all is indeed well on my side – thanks to you! I still tap and my baby actually reacts to my tapping now! It’s so amazing and I am so grateful to have made the choice to keep him despite the turmoil in my life. I have amazing friends who support me and I am so excited for my son’s birth on 15 September. Will send you a picture as soon as I can OK? Take care and once again, thank you for calming the waters for me. Lots of love”
“This message serves to say THANK YOU for contributing in my success as a person. You've made me aware of the things I was not aware of. Since then I use some of your principles in my life on a daily basis. You've also answered some of my long awaiting questions in life and I really appreciate it. Be blessed and I thank you.”
“My life got turned around in one afternoon, it’s as if you cleared years of blockages in one sitting, and I can be sceptical of certain alternative healing methods. I still can’t believe that such a simple, non invasive healing can have such dramatic results. I can’t wait to tap again with you and see what else I have been burying deep inside my stubborn brain … if only everyone knew about this! Best wishes.”
“Thank you so much for the session I had with you. It did wonders for me. It helped me get past my fear of public speaking to a point where I actually enjoy standing up there now. I still get a bit nervous, and then I do some tapping and it helps tremendously. Thanks again.”
“EFT is all about letting go. We destroy our present and our future by nurturing our personal traumas - whatever they may be. Sometimes what we thought was the problem isn’t - Bridget helped me to ‘sort’ through the self imposed fog I found myself in. I went to see her once and the result was immediate and life changing. I learnt to be objective and distance myself and see my value and move into my true space. THANK YOU Bridget XXX (You DID change my life Bridget. So grateful. Want you to help lots more people).”
“Being in the complimentary health profession myself, I have come to recognise the importance of releasing emotional ‘baggage’ that keeps us from being whole. The Emotional Freedom Technique helped me to shift some deep-seated behavioural patterns that I was oblivious to as it had become so much a part of who I was. Bridget has a keen sense of guiding the process to those deep layers that we keep hidden from ourselves and she does this gently and with a great deal of compassion. What I found so beneficial is that once the emotion was revealed, it was not necessary to spend days picking at old wounds like one would do in conventional therapy. Instead I acknowledged the emotion and then moved on swiftly and elegantly without having to dwell on all the unpleasantness. I would recommend EFT to anyone who wishes to expand their consciousness.”
“I have suffered from depression and been on medication for many years (since about 1990). I have always wanted to get off the medication because of the many side effects. This seemed impossible until I met Bridget and learnt about EFT. One session gave me the tools to work with EFT and enabled me to get through difficult times. I am now no longer on medication! I use EFT when troubled and find that within a few minutes I am once again able to cope. And it really works!!!! My thanks to you.”
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Clients Bridget has worked with