Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Wisdom Of Grieving

--by Terry Patten (Feb 26, 2018)

Not only is grieving a stage of the spiritual activist’s journey, but the grieving process itself often unfolds in stages, which can be described using Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s famous five stages of grief. These five stages–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance–describe the process of psychologically responding to the prospect and reality of any catastrophic loss.

Denial can be said to be a defense against suffering and grieving. If reality is too painful, don’t face it. Maintain equilibrium and good humor by closing the metaphorical eyes, or the mind. Turn off the new, doubt its veracity, change the channel.

While we can certainly criticize people’s motivations for disengagement, it is also true that the attitudes communicated in media are often reactive and draining. So there are good reasons to practice skilfull, selective disengagement from the 24/7 news cycle. Making intelligent and economical use of media and politics disciplines tendencies toward both mindless addiction and reactive avoidance.

Anger easily becomes a habitual defense against feeling loss, sadness, and fear. There are very good reasons to be angry. Anger is the energy to change what needs to be changed. But healthy anger rises and falls, rather than becoming a chronic state, and it stays in touch with grief.

The next stage is bargaining, an attempt to regain lost equanimity, perhaps by imagining alternative scenarios that mitigate the sense of loss. Whereas true equanimity is based on opening up to all of reality, including its darkness, bargaining seeks to keep painful realities at bay. It is a more sophisticated form of denial.

The fourth stage is depression. When it is clear that heartbreaking loss cannot be avoided, the being is at least temporarily shattered. We begin to fear losing something we have always depended upon and taken for granted–such as the company of a loved one, the restorative and healing grace of Mother Earth, or the ability to live in prosperous, secure, open liberal society without doing anything to protect or defend it.

Mature, responsible adults are charged with staying intelligently related to the realities of our lives. But that requires us to pass through all the harrowing stages of grief into acceptance.

True acceptance recognizes the reality of our situation and accepts responsibility to arrive in basic equanimity and a capacity to act. We find a way to choose life, even in a world that includes horrific losses. We choose engagement with reality, including the gritty and not always pleasant involvements with people we may not like and in situations we would prefer to avoid. We know we have arrived in acceptance when we are in motion, doing what we can to make a positive difference. We find deep equanimity.

Terry Patten is an author, who supports the marriage of spirit and activism. Excerpt above is from The New Republic of the Heart.

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On Feb 23, 2018 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 I have experienced losses of dear friends, father and mother, and three brothers and three sisters and the latest loss of my dear wife. I have learned about death and dying by going through such losses. I have seen my clients going through the five stages of grieving as described by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Personally I have experienced loneliness, emptiness and a deep sense of sadness by the losses in my life. It did not take a very long time for me to accept the passing away of the people so close to me.

Grieving has been an important process for me to accept the unavoidable reality of passing away. Realizing  the truth that  whoever is born is going to die has eased my pain. Genuine support from my sons and daughter was a great factor in my healing process. I still feel the loss of my wife and also feel the presence of her love. My daily practice of mindfulness meditation has been the anchor in my life. Reflecting on the unavoidable reality of dying has made me aware of the precious gift of life. How to live is in my hand. Dying has taught me the most valuable lesson of living.

May we live our life fully, gracefully  and gratefully!

Jagdish P Dave

On Feb 25, 2018 david doane wrote:

 People arrive at maturity in all kinds of ways.  When dealing with a loss, passing through all 5 stages of grieving is a way to arrive at maturity, but it's not a have to.  Not everyone responds to loss by going through the stages.  Our response to grief depends on where we're at in life and in maturity.  Many people live in acceptance and respond with acceptance.  They're already mature in that way.  A significant loss for me that I'm thinking about resulted in deep sadness, internal anguish, grief, a lot of confusion, some bargaining, and acceptance, pretty much in that order; I don't think I was angry or depressed.  Knowing that change -- birth and death, beginning and ending, gains and losses -- is always happening, and growing in acceptance of that, helps me stay in motion and find some equanimity.

On Feb 26, 2018 Dr Mahesh Mangaldas wrote:

 All five stages are necessary 

On Feb 26, 2018 Nageshwar Panchal wrote:

 I was with Ravi Gulati bhiya few days back and during a conversation, we came to point that accepting as a whole is important, It needs great courage to shift from accepting selective things to accepting the whole. 

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On Feb 27, 2018 Sahara wrote:

 Thank~you for sharing the possibility and gifts of acceptance.
What you wrote is inspiring and calls on my own courage to gracefully 
embrace life and to feel the love of those 
who aren’t with me. 🦋

On Feb 27, 2018 jane wrote:

 This is an outdated model of grief that has resulted in a society that misunderstands what child loss means to a family. Newer models speak to an ongoing relationship that changes but is never accepted. It couldn’t be because love never dies. Check out websites like Modern Loss, An Inch of Gray, the org.Cope to be updated.

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On Feb 27, 2018 Michelle wrote:

Hog wash! This was never about people who had lost a loved one. It was about people looking at their own death. 

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 I believe you may only speak for yourself and your experience.  You cannot possibly know anyone else's.

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