Cancer Diary: Some Notes about Grief


In her classic tome on death and dying, On Grief & Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identifies five stages that those faced with shocking news associated with loss or potential loss go through:

  • Denial (avoidance, confusion, elation, shock, fear)
  • Anger (frustration, irritation, anxiety)
  • Bargaining (struggling to find meaning, reaching out to others, telling one's story)
  • Depression (overwhelmed, helplessness, hostility, fight)
  • Acceptance (exploring options, new plan in place, moving on)

Th subsequent works by Kubler-Ross, including those with colleagues, as well as works by others building on her research have pretty much confirmed these stages. How long it takes to go through any one of them depends upon the individual. Future Cancer Diary posts will dive deeper and personally into these stages. Grief is a complex and highly individual topic and intrinsically intertwined with cancer.

MSI has published some helpful works on grief, some of which also build on Kubler-Ross's work, e.g., Harnessing the Power of Grief (Potter), and some of which come from interviewing those experiencing specific kinds of grief and life situations, e.g., Life after Losing a Child (Young & Romer). More information on these books and blog posts about the books, including with excerpts, can be found HERE.

Here is another helpful resource: a Grief Toolbox, including help with anger: Do They See Me Cry in Heaven?


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