Thursday, April 15, 2010

Five Rooms in a House


Do those words put together in list form remind you of anything?

No? Then what about this? Kubler-Ross model.

Some of you may have guessed the reference after two words. (You would have guessed after one word if you had had any inkling of where this post is going.) Others may have had their memory jolted with the name Kubler-Ross. For everyone else, here is the answer:

The Five Stages of Death.

There is a wikipedia link Here. Included in the link is a rebuttal by one George Bonanno[2], professor of clinical psychology of Columbia University. Professor Bonanno claims that two decades of serious scientific research reveals no basis to support The Five Stages of Death theory.

I don't know. Considering that the only claim is that people suffering catastrophic pain/loss will pass through at least two of these stages - in no particular order - at least once, I find the claim that there is no evidence strange.

For one thing, two of the stages are at odds with each other: denial and acceptance. By definition, if you aren't accepting what has happened/is taking place, then you are denying it. And if you aren't denying it then you must be accepting it. So that means EVERYONE goes through at least one of the stages.

What about the other three? Anger. Bargaining. Depression.

I find it very difficult to believe that less than the majority of people who learn they are dying, or that someone they love is dying, or that someone they love has died, or that their spouse has filed for divorce, or that they've lost their job, or whatever catastrophic event you care to consider, does not at least get depressed about it. The two most common reactions to horrible events are anger and depression.

My personal biggie is depression. According to the Kubler-Ross model, people not only pass through the various stages, skipping some and visiting others, they may actually shift back and forth between a couple of stages.

This means one can be angry on Monday, accepting on Tuesday, angry again on Wednesday, depressed on Thursday, accepting again on Friday, depressed again on Saturday, bargaining on Sunday, and angry again on Monday.

Or some other combination.

Leaving a stage does not mean that stage is over. And entering an accepting stage does not mean it either. It may not last.

And to further complicate the idea that the theory is bogus, the theory clearly states there is no time limit. Moving from one stage to another may take weeks, or months, or even years.

I have experienced all five stages in my life at various times and dealing with various events which, in my opinion - sucked.

Denial is probably the one I understand the least. It tends to be connected to bargaining, I think, and I am a bargainer. If I'm bargaining for some kind of reversal, then I must not believe it's a "done deal". So, I have to plead Guilty to denying the truth when I don't like it at all.

Anger. Well - yeah. Of course. I can remember slamming billiard balls over the pool table. Hitting them so hard with the cue stick they actually flew off the table. Using the cue as a bat and hitting all the balls at once. Yelling at God. (It's always God we blame, isn't it?) Swearing at him. Demanding to know just what in the hell he thought he was doing anyway? Oh, yes. I have become angry when devastation strikes. Then I'm grumpy around those I care about.

Bargaining. I've already admitting to being a bargainer. My problem is I generally never have anything to bargain with. I mean, what can I offer God that he doesn't already have? Myself? He's already got that. Had it for years. I keep worrying he's in the market to trade up and a better model, or just give up and toss this one aside. Fortunately, God is more gracious and has far more patience than I'll ever know. But I still worry about it. I'm a real pain in the spiritual ass.

Depression. Hell, it's not unusual for me to be depressed when nothing has gone wrong. All I have to do is remember some trauma from my past and - whoosh! All the feelings of goodness and contentment are submerged beneath waves of emotional pain and anguish. Yes. I get depressed about catastrophic events.

Acceptance. This is a strange one. It's the one that frustrates me most. Why? Because it doesn't always stick around. I'll get to a place where I have accepted the truth of a matter, feel fine about it, and actually being to move on. Then, without warning, there I am - denying, bargaining, getting angry or depressed. Those four feelings/attitudes never seem to want to leave. But acceptance? It can hardly wait to get away from me. I think acceptance really hates me.

Part of my problem is my sensitivity. Things that other people let slide away like water from a duck's back just crush the hell out of me. It's like we all have this invisible umbrella, and for other people it sheds the water, because they're holding it properly. Somehow, I hold mine upside down, so instead of channeling all of these negative feelings away, I collect them - right on top of myself. For a person with an I.Q. many people would drool over I'm not very smart.

But the core of my problem - I think - is that I appear to define my self worth on people, things and events outside of myself. Instead of looking at myself with my own eyes, I try to see myself as others must see me. And their actions dictate far more to me than their words. So when I talk to someone who tells me I'm wonderful, but then refuses to have anything to do with me, I have to discount the words and assume there is a problem of some kind.



I'm not sure which of the five rooms I'm in, but it's quiet. So it must be either depression or acceptance. Certain actions I have taken recently suggest acceptance but, like I said, acceptance doesn't really like me. It might be depression in disguise. We're good friends.

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