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26 Nov 2004

To CS: re: grief, etc
I could not agree with you more: the so-called stages of grief should rather be seen as the main aspects/ingredients of a very discordant process to attempt to come to terms with a painful loss. Since the death of my son, I have been all over them at any time, and definitely not in stages!! Someone once said that one never gets "over" a loss like this, but that you learn to live through the loss. Very true!
I have read all of EKR's works, and would like to know if you consider her "research" and views on dying and life after death as having any value....obviously I would love to believe that my son has moved on to a next level of existence, and that I would connect with him again when I leave this earth.
And to all who would take exception to this question: I believe in God as our all powerful Creator and loving Father.........but coming face to face with death has made this question a very real one for me, and I am struggling to understand these things as a limited human being!
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01 Jan 0001

Thanks for your wise and interesting comments, Lynne. I think only those who have never really faced the works of grief can produce or promote such simplistic models. And the Model made people feel inadequate because they couldn't manage it as easily as the book said. I once was infuriated to discover a Nursing tutor who send a bunch of students to the bedside of some dying individuals, with the task to "Get them through to Acceptance and meet me back in the Canteen in a hour".
I think grief work is always hard, and that one needs to work at the tasks of grief from diferent angels, sometimes repeating territory, in order to make progress. It is never linear.
I think there were many disturbing things about Elizabeth's work. The Stages model, which made her a pop star at the time, was followed by the disturbing phase in which she rushed back up the ladder of her own five stages and locked herself into Denial. The idea of life after death, and of your regaining more direct contact with the spirit of your son thereafter, is common to many religions, and belongs there. It is a comforting item of belief, and apart from her fake claims to have "research" to prove her claims, isn't really compatible with or part of the "research" moel. I listen with respect when genuine religious thinkers speak about such matters, not when a pop star offers an over-simplified version designed for mass-marketing, and seemingly more based on her own personal neurotic problems than on much else.
I felt queasy about how you couldn't take Elizabeth out with our group for an ice-cream in the evening, without her wandering off and coming back bragging that she's found a dying person and brought great comfort to them --- it felt a lot more like trophy hunting than caring.
And in her "there is no death at all" phase, she'd tell us how, on her lecture tour ( she seemed always to be touring ) she would mention how a most attractive young male angel had left a rosebud on her pillow last night, as if describing Room Service leaving a mint on the sheet.
She persuaded most of the obituarists and reference book writers that she had something to do with founding the Hospice movement in America, or, indeed, the world. As I was part of those who first developed this service in Europe and North America, I know well that she had absolutely nothing at all to do with it until it had already succeeded, when, seeing it as a rival group to her own loyal audience, she "joined" it when it was already a bandwagon. She always seemed to shy away from the actual humble and at times tedious aspects of actual care-giving, always seeking oppotunities to grandstand ; fluttering in to pose for pictures with sick people, and fluttering off again before there was work to be done.
And your last line reminds me of something alse that always bothered me about her. Despite some fake modesty, she never seemed to recognize herself as a "limited human being".
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