Stages of Grief

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.

D- Depression

A- Anger

B- Bargaining

D- Denial

A- Acceptance

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.


About micalagh

I am a writer, a social worker, a therapist, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a soon-to-be mother...I am continually growing and learning in each of these roles. I am seeking to learn how to love others better and to enjoy the small things of life, to see God in everything and everyone around me.
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One Response to Stages of Grief

  1. Amanda Arbour says:

    This is great, Cale – I agree, when we are able to name things it brings them out of chaos, and when we can recognize these feelings as normal responses to loss or other circumstances, we can give ourselves extra grace for where we are – while knowing, as you said, that “this too shall pass”… Good thoughts 🙂

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