Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage Of Mourning
Jane E. Brody writes in the New York Times that David Kessler, a grieving expert, was faced with the sudden death of his 21-year-old son. One of the results of this experiment can be found in his new book, “Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Mourning”. He writes, “The meaning comes from finding a way to maintain your love for the person after their death while continuing your way, your life. Loss is simply what happens to you in life. Meaning is what you make happen in your life yourself ”.
Five stages of grief
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross immortalized in 1969 what she called the “Five Stages of Sorrow” in her bestseller “On Death and Dying”. Mr. Kessler partnered with her in 2004 to write her second bestseller, “On Grief and Grieving,” how we deal with these five stages: denial, anger, negotiation, depression and finally acceptance . Mr. Kessler couldn't stop at acceptance and ended up concluding that the next step was: sense, which he describes as the sixth step of grieving, where true healing occurs.
People find meaning in many ways
People find meaning in many ways: recalling memories of those who have been lost; believe in the hereafter; some write poetry or produce other works of art; many families take comfort in donating the organs of their loved one to save lives; still others turn their loss into a vocation to help others survive - or prevent - a similar loss.
Nevertheless, the grieving process must take place and finding meaning cannot eliminate this need; but it can relieve the pain somewhat and allow you to find your way back to life.
For some, losing a child or a pet makes them reluctant to have another for fear of suffering another painful loss. Yet this decision may be right to courageously create a better life for a suffering child or animal than it otherwise would have been; at least some have found it.
Brody notes that death by suicide is one of the most difficult losses to deal with. Grieving families and loved ones generally receive much less support than if the death is due to illness or accident. Suicide is often thought to be a chosen death that is therefore less worthy of mourning - although the loss is no less difficult for survivors; indeed, often a feeling of guilt (why I didn't see it coming, why didn't I stop it?) can often make the pain worse.
Yet suicide is usually the result of a serious mental disorder - Brody calls it "stage IV brain disease" - and is therefore no less worthy of compassion than any other reason. The loved ones of someone who has committed suicide can sometimes find meaning in volunteering for suicide prevention programs or awareness of the warning signs of suicide.