One way people cope, psychologist Sherry Cormier said, is by trying to find some sort of certainty. This need for structure is probably one factor behind the popularity that latched onto the “five stages of grief” over 50 years ago and hasn’t yet let up, said David Kessler, who founded grief.com, a resource aiming to help people deal with uncharted territory related to grief. Kessler coauthored “On Grief and Grieving” with the late Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
A Swiss American psychiatrist and pioneer of studies on dying people, Kübler-Ross wrote “On Death and Dying,” the 1969 book in which she proposed the patient-focused, death-adjustment pattern, the “Five Stages of Grief.” Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
“In the actual book, she talked about more than five stages,” Kessler said. “Think about the context of 1969 — doctors and hospital personnel were not talking about the end-of-life process. … Elisabeth really hoped ‘On Death and Dying’ would start the conversation.”
Since then, there has been extensive media coverage of the five stages; use in television shows including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House”; clinician support; and criticism. Those five stages are what people clung to, Kessler said.
Grief and psychology experts and academics have criticized the framework for not being thoroughly supported by research, suggesting that the bereaved move through grief sequentially or implying one correct way to grieve. But these suggestions weren’t Kübler-Ross’ intentions, and she stated these caveats on the first page of the b