HuffPost Blog Post - Five Stages of Grief Growth

HuffPost Healthy Living has my latest blog post:

Five Stages of Grief Growth

In my work with the wives of wounded warriors, I’ve seen post-traumatic stress (PTS) in the warriors themselves as well as in their family members. According toMental Health America, PTS can affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as sexual or physical abuse, a natural disaster, or war. Anyone who was present at the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels - as well as first responders and victims’ family members - is likely to feel aftershocks of that stunning trauma long after the fact. They may be haunted by nightmares that recall the events at the Zaventem airport, or experience flashbacks of the horrific scenes that played out there after the suicide bombers detonated their explosives.

And this is perfectly natural. PTS develops in survivors of a variety of catastrophes, many of whom had no previous significant mental health problems. For example, a study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health showed that PTS is common among rescue workers, firefighters, health care teams, and police officers. The symptoms have also been noted in prisoners of war, Holocaust survivors, and people who witnessed or were first responders to the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

But, amazingly, the aftermath of a traumatic event can sometimes spur incredibly positive changes. In the midst of stress and sorrow, fear and grief, many people discover inner strengths that had previously been hidden.

You’ve probably heard of the five stages of grief as postulated by the Kübler-Ross model, but how about the five stages of grief growth? It wasn’t until I’d spent some time working with the spouses of wounded warriors that I heard these stages re-cast. These amazing women taught me how denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance can all contribute to the healing process, and all help us grow beyond our pain. After all, loss is part of life, and each stage can be transformative in a positive way.

Let’s look at each one in detail:

Stage 1 — Denial

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