Unpopular opinion: I’m not against the “five stages of grief.”
The majority of grief advocates argue against the use of the five stages of grief and while I agree with many of their points, I don’t fully agree with getting rid of “the five stages” altogether.
*Side note: The argument is that grief cannot be put into stages. Grief will always be present and it does not begin and end with stages. Grief is unique to everyone and this is putting a label on it as if it’s a one size fits all.
Let me explain…
When you’re new to grief, there’s almost a 99% chance someone is going to bring up these stages to you. Whether it be a therapist, a teacher, a family member, someone is likely to. Why? Because these stages outline what you are likely to experience in the days ahead.
When I lost my identical twin, I was 20-years-old, I had never lost anyone significant in my life (flash forward to today: sadly, I’ve lost several significant loved ones). With that being said, I was clueless as to what I was heading into. Not that anyone is ever truly “prepared” for grief until it actually happens, but I was, in my opinion, one of the least prepared grievers. Sure, I had been through some tough times in my life, and at a young age too, but nothing compared to this.
I needed something. Anything.
Those stages were “something” for me. Don’t get me wrong, it took me months, if not years to actually fully grasp them, but even to this day, I think they continue to help me.
They give me some sort of direction. Some sort of answer. Something.
If you can’t already tell, I’m the type of person who likes to know “why.” Why do things happen? Why do people act like they do? Why do people react to things differently than others? Why? These stages provided me some answers to these questions.
Notice that I said “some” answers. Of course nothing or no one can provide us with all of the answers we want and need, but the fact that I was able to get some answers was better to me than no answers at all.
It’s similar to most things in life, we seek direction, advice, something.
I think our society is on a trend of questioning and making an argument for everything in its path, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are many aspects of our world that need change (ASAP), but I’m not so sure that the “stages of grief” are one of them. There’s never going to be the perfect guideline for grief simply because it does not exist, so instead, what’s so bad about having some sort of something in regards to a guideline for our grief journey?
If you’re “new” to grief and are seeing the trend of arguing against the use of the stages of grief, I’m here to give you a different opinion about it. Learning about the stages can be helpful. They can give us some direction, some answers, some idea of what to expect, and somewhat of a sense of feeling “normal,” whatever that is anyways.
All my best,