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Life, viewed sideways. Emotions, amplified. Answers, questioned. Me, between the lines.

- A Wounded Heart, Who Can Bear?
- Drowning Under a Tidal Wave
- Clawing My Way to the Sunlight
- Yes, Santa Claus, There Is a Virginia
- Fugu
- Touching the Spirit
- A Hole in the Universe
- Riding on the Dreams of Others
- Turning Into a Shark
 - A Heart, Ripped Asunder
- Surrendering to the Roller Coaster
- Hunting in the Jade Forest
- Dodging the Shark
- Dancing With Invisible Partners
- The Captain and the Harliquin
- Courting the Devils
- The Captain Makes His Mark
- Mad Dog to the Rescue
- Innocent in the Big City
- Dropping the Ball Briefcase
- Scrambling Brains
- Cheating the Reaper, Again
- What If the Man Behind the Curtain Is No Wizard After All?
- All of Us Have a Soundtrack
- Working With Broken Machines
- Happy Anniversary, Baby
- Standing on Stars
- Running the Film Backwards
- Identity Crisis ("Who am I?")
- Can We Ever Really Admit the Desires of Our Heart?
- Forgiveness is a Rare Thing
- Having Your Heart Caressed By the Creator
- Working With Broken Machines
- A New Leg to Stand On
- The Real Spirit of Christmas
- Chatting With Infinity
- Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
- We All Have a Great Capacity for Loss
- Brushed Lightly By Might Have Beens
- We See the World Through Our Own Looking Glass
- Every Storm Passes Eventually
- Accidents Can Introduce Destiny Into Our Lives
- Freedom Depends on the Walls Around Us
- Pulling Aside the Velvet Curtain
- Riding the Razor's Edge
- Dying With Strangers
- In Your Face
- Between the Lines
- The Bobcat
- Angel With a Coffeecup
- Innocent in the Big City
- Chains of Gossamer
- Playing With Knives
- Stumbling Through Memories (Ooops)
- Picture This
- Running the Film Backwards
- Playing the Score, Tasting the Music
- Coins and Corals and Carved Coconuts
- My God, I Confess
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 1, Speechless)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 2, Taxi)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 3, The Pan American)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 4, Guano)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 5, The Andes Express)

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"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."

Walt Whitman (1819-92)

"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."

Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)

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Monday, August 23, 2004

From Here to There

Function: noun
Etymology: Latin transition-, transitio, from transire
1 a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : CHANGE b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
2 : harbinger of grief

It's not just for the terminally ill, you know.

Back in 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published her book titled "On Death and Dying." In the book she defines what she calls the "five stages of grief" that a terminally ill patient goes through.

We are all guilty of seeing the world through our own personal lens. Kubler-Ross saw the world through her "grief of the terminally ill" lens, and applied the five steps accordingly.

They fit, after all.

But it turns out that these five stages occur in any situation of significant change in our lives. Not just dying, but also the death of relationships, the death of loved ones or pets, the loss of a job, the diagnosis of a chronic illness, even the marriage of a child or a pregnancy.

The problem here lies in our definition of grief. In 1974, the "Handbook of Psychiatry" defined grief as "the normal response to the loss of a loved one by death." Very specific. Yet, by 1991 the definition had evolved to the point where the Grief Resource Foundation of Dallas, TX defined it as "the total response of the organism to the process of change."

Change is the key. Change is what the entire cycle turns on.

What are the five steps? Here they are in the usual order (although they may be experienced out of order or some may even be skipped): Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

Any change of circumstance will necessarily send us into this pattern. Let's say a boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with us. Our first reaction is to deny that it could be happening, to try to stop them, to convince yourself that tomorrow it will all be OK again.

Next, anger. "I hate you! I'm burning all your love letters and here's that stupid ring!"

Then, bargaining. "Well, can't we still maybe be just friends? Can we still go out?"

Depression. "My life will never recover from this."

Finally, acceptance. "It's time to get on with my life."

I know I've been wearing ruts in the road with these five steps lately, usually overlapping one set with another. I could give examples, but I'm not sure I want to. Suffice it to say that it feels like some sort of mental roundabout with cars going every which way at once.

The nice thing is that now, at least I know there is some sort of destination, eventually.

(This blog entry heavily used information available in the article Beware the 5 Stages of Grief.)
The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121 AD - 180 AD), Meditations

Permalink: 8/23/2004 07:59:00 PM |
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