Psychology Application of E. Kubler-Ross

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

My family and I found out about it that night when a member of her family called us to accompany them at the hospital.

For my family and I denial quickly set in. Prior to us arriving at the hospital, we were trying to convince ourselves that it must be a mistake, they must have gotten the patients confused somehow (even though it was a member of her family who had informed us over the telephone). When we got to the hospital and saw her lying on the bed, the gravity of the situation didn't really hit us. The doctors were throwing in phrases like "possible brain damage" and "inability to breathe on her own." Whenever we heard those phrases we threw in our own phrases such as "requiring a second opinion" and "I think I saw her move her little finger."

The phase of aggression came when we enquired as to the sequence of events, which led her to the hospital. My family and I felt a lot of anger towards the driver of the car who ran her down, the doctors who seemed hell-bent on convincing us to prepare for the inevitable, and even for my friend who had foolishly gambled on her life all for convenience. The phases of anger, negotiation and depression would fight for dominance in our psyche throughout the 5 days when she was on life-support. We would take turns to stay up with her all day and all night, hoping for any movement of her fingers, toes, eyes, hoping for a miracle. In the dead of night, I would pray to God to save her life. I was brought up a Catholic but living in a largely secular society, I had ceased practicing Catholic tenets as faithfully as I should. I would offer God a trade - if he spared her life, I promised to attend mass every Sunday. I promised to give every homeless person on the street the change in my wallet without my characteristic cynicism that they were probably going to spend it on alcohol or drugs instead of food. I would even talk to my friend as she lay on the hospital bed. I would promise to go out with her more, spend more time with her, if she continued to fight. I would promise to go to the movies with her as soon as she gets out of the hospital if she would only wiggle her finger or bat an eyelid. However, when overt life signs did not materialize, anger would resume its hold over me or a state of depression would ensue as I tried to think of new ways to force her to get better.

A became so depressed that I didn't attend school for the longest time, during her stay in the hospital and after her death. A sense of hopelessness enveloped me as I struggled to rationalize such a tragedy. Why would God cut a good person down just as her life was burgeoning? What possible meaning was there in such a senseless calamity? My family and I probably would have continued living in the phases of anger, negotiation and depression if it had not been for her family. Her mother, father and two sisters seemed to advance to the phase of acceptance at a quicker pace than my family and I. When the doctors informed them that their daughter was considered 100% brain dead on the fifth day, my family and I were clamouring for second opinions. However, her family understood that it was final and their daughter had already left for a better place. They made peace with their daughter and drove us to advance to the phase of acceptance as well. Their faith in God and the afterlife contributed much to the advancement to the phase of acceptance. They even forgave the woman who ran their daughter down.

Acceptance largely came due to the strength of their faith and their trust in God. This phase brought with it much reconciliation among other families that my friend's parents had been feuding with. Everyone became closer and nicer to each other as a result of the tragedy. The phase of hope occurred at her funeral when everyone attended to celebrate her life as opposed to mourn her death. Her family asked me to perform the eulogy due to our close friendship and talking about her in front of a sea of people in the congregation was strangely cathartic. I was hopeful that she was happy where she had gone to and firmly believes it is a happier existence. This hope was reinforced by dreams I would have of her following her funeral. I would be talking to her at the age of 15 years but instead of conversing with an 18-year-old, I would be talking to my friend at the age of 10. She would skip around me and assure me that she was happy now. I desperately needed to hear that from her, even if it was just through a dream sequence.

E. Kubler-Ross' theory on the stages of grief and loss are fairly accurate, particularly in the real-life tragedy I experienced as a teenager. It is comforting to knowing that these stages are recognized not just in me but also in other individuals faced with similar experiences. It makes it seem that despite the irrationality oftentimes exhibited due to such emotion-charged situations, there is an underlying rationality to it all - the mind is merely preparing itself for permanent acceptance of the inevitable. There is definitely method behind the madness.

References

Coster, David R. (December 2000). The Grief Process and the Funeral Liturgy. http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:dt5b6yJVwLMC:www.schoolofministry.ac.nz/Files/David%2520Coster%2520Grief%2520and%2520Funerals.doc+E+Kubler+Ross+%22The+Grief+Process+and+the+Funeral%22&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8

Drama Theoretic Technologies (April 2002). Mourning. http://www.dramatec.com/articles/library/a200204001/

Freeman, Steve. "Organizational Loss," in Identity Maintenance and Adaptation: a Multilevel Analysis of Response to Loss. http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:lRTKSR0lL0MC:imvp.mit.edu/papers/96/Freeman2.pdf+E+Kubler+Ross+Organizational+Loss&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8

Kruger, Prof. Mariana. Translated from Afrikaans to English by van den Berg, Celia. Dying Children and Their Families. http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:SPv7MM_NLZwC:www.churchstreetfunerals.co.za/Mariana%2520Kruger.doc+%22Dying+Children+and+their+Families%22+E+Kubler-Ross&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. New York, Macmillan.

ENDNOTES

Application of E. Kubler Ross Theory to Real Life Loss

Kruger, Prof. Mariana. Translated from Afrikaans to English by van den Berg, Celia. Dying Children and Their Families. http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:SPv7MM_NLZwC:www.churchstreetfunerals.co.za/Mariana%2520Kruger.doc+%22Dying+Children+and+their+Families%22+E+Kubler-Ross&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8

Freeman, Steve. "Organizational Loss," in Identity Maintenance and Adaptation: a Multilevel Analysis of Response to Loss. http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:lRTKSR0lL0MC:imvp.mit.edu/papers/96/Freeman2.pdf+E+Kubler+Ross+Organizational+Loss&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8

Drama Theoretic Technologies (April 2002). Mourning. http://www.dramatec.com/articles/library/a200204001/

Kruger, Prof. Mariana. Translated from Afrikaans to English by van den Berg, Celia. Dying Children and Their Families. http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:SPv7MM_NLZwC:www.churchstreetfunerals.co.za/Mariana%2520Kruger.doc+%22Dying+Children+and+their+Families%22+E+Kubler-Ross&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8

Coster, David R. (December 2000). The Grief Process and the Funeral Liturgy. http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:dt5b6yJVwLMC:www.schoolofministry.ac.nz/Files/David%2520Coster%2520Grief%2520and%2520Funerals.doc+E+Kubler+Ross+%22The+Grief+Process+and+the+Funeral%22&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8