The Five Misconceptions of Grief

Loss is a fact of life and so are the reactions that follow, but the grief that accompanies significant loss is frequently misunderstood. Here are some of the more commonly held myths and misconceptions about grief, along with the facts to dispel them:

MISCONCEPTION #1 : “The Five Stages of Grief are linear and must happen one right after another.”

Not True.- The same way grief is unique as our fingerprint, how the stages will occur in someone’s life is also unique to them.

MISCONCEPTION #2 : “You must go through all of the five stages.”

Not True.- Some people never go through the anger stage. Some people are never in denial. Some never find acceptance.

MISCONCEPTION #3 : “The five stages only occur once.”

Not True.- We often go through stages multiple times. We may experience them when a diagnosis happens and then again when the prognosis turns bad. Again, when a love one dies and many times over again in grief.

MISCONCEPTION #4 : “We must follow the five stages.”

Not True.- The stages reflect where we are. What makes what Kübler Ross did so amazing and stand the test of time is – she didn’t create something, rather she identified something that naturally occurs in our behavior after loss and change.

MISCONCEPTION #5 : “You must have exactly one of those emotions in the five stages.”

Not True.- The stages are general emotions that contain many other emotions. For example, denial also contains shock. Anger contains rage, bitterness, and annoyance. Bargaining is the “if only’s” and the “what-if’s.” Depression contains sadness, despair, emptiness and yearning. Acceptance just means you acknowledge the reality of the loss. It does not mean you’re okay with it or you like it.