While I was recently studying for my social work licensing exam, I came across a mnemonic device designed to remember the stages of grief: DABDA.
While this has not been the first time I have seen the stages of grief (thank you, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross), this is the first time I have contemplated them in a more general sense. Initially, they were applied to the stages of grief when one finds out that they are dying. More recently, they have also been applied to those who are grieving a loved one who has died. However, I have noticed these responses in my life as reactions to other circumstances that involved any kind of sadness or pain. It may be grief regarding a plan I have had that hasn’t rolled out the way I expected, or grief regarding a relationship, a friend moving away, and so on.
For some reason, this has been helpful for me to recognize these stages in me. Like all stage models, they do not necessarily happen in order. It is more likely that we flow from one to the other and back again. We may see glimpses of hope and acceptance, and then the anger is suddenly overwhelming, and the sadness comes in waves.
Maybe it’s because I need to justify my emotional ups and downs, maybe it’s because I need to label it, put it in a box where it feels safer. But for some reason, when I am able to identify it, “Ah yes, there is the anger,” I am also able to accept it easier and make peace with it. Sometimes labeling or naming something can help, sometimes normalizing it can make one feel better. It is good to know that “this too shall pass,” the pain will not last forever- it will come and it will go, and that the hope of acceptance is present.