The Five Stages of Grief and Their Relevance to Today

When my father passed away 13 years ago, I entered a period of mourning. Lifelong, in fact, with ebbs and flows. I had learned about the five stages of grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in psychology class, but experiencing it for myself was a totally different ballgame. I started off for a year or so in the denial phase, and looking back, always felt bad for how long it lasted. A couple years later, I read an article on grief that changed my perspective a bit. It said that everyone grieves differently. That one can go through the five stages at their own pace, in their own order—that judgement is NOT part of the equation, and to accept how we each cope in our own way. This was an invitation for me to release much of the guilt that I had had for living in the denial phase for what I felt was a long time.

Five years after my father died, I learned about another kind of grief: the kind that comes from injury. I hurt my lower back pretty badly and had to stop teaching yoga classes. I couldn’t even do yoga myself. This lasted about a year and a half. I was miserable. I was depressed. I felt so stuck. And then someone told me that losing the ability to move in the way I was used to, to work out, losing that channel of self-expression and catharsis, was something my body was mourning. Sure it wasn’t the same kind of mourning, but it was mourning nonetheless. And so I learned how injury yields another shade of grief.

Yesterday my gym closed for two weeks. My body grieves again. I miss the refreshing nature of my thrice-weekly swims. I yearn for how it strengthens my core and protects my back—helps me carry my toddler, keeps me feeling stronger and more confident. I was saddened to read the email informing me of its closure last night.

This was just one small thing added to my worries: the pandemic, the economy, job disruption, social distancing, school closures. Needless to say, I had a very restless, sleepless night.

Crazy how usually when I blog, it is about my personal experiences, but in our current state the entire nation, the entire world, is experiencing this reality together.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

They are swirling inside of me.

Inside of each of us.

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