Acceptance within the 5 Stages of Grief
We’ve all heard of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.
I frequently hear things like “What am I accepting exactly?” and “I don’t want to accept that they’re gone.” So what is acceptance? And is acceptance really the “place” to get to in order to heal from your grief.
Most people think of approval when they hear the word acceptance. They think they need to become okay with what has happened. Dictionary.com defines acceptance as “favorable reception; approval; favor”. If we’re working off of that definition I can understand why so many people reject the idea. The thought of “carrying on” demonstrates they have reached a state of acceptance and therefore approval.
I often encourage those who are grieving to view acceptance in a different light (and re-name it completely if that helps). Realize this final stage of grief means somehow figuring out how to move forward with life, while carrying the person you lost with you. This looks different for everyone. It may mean setting up a foundation in the name of a loved one, planting flowers or journaling your favorite memories. Often though, this final stage is not that concrete. It can simply be continuing to live in a way that is honoring to the person you love. To live fully, and love well. To not stay in the darkness forever, but to find light and happiness again, without losing the memory of the one you love.