From The Boston Globe:
You may not have heard of the psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, but you’ve almost certainly heard of her five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They’re widely used by psychologists, psychiatrists, and grief counselors. Even Conan O’Brien has joked that getting replaced at “The Tonight Show” involved going through the stages of losing a talk show: “Everyone goes through it, I’ve talked to Arsenio, I’ve talked to everybody….It’s just science, man!”
Is it, though? That’s the question Ruth Davis Konigsberg, a journalist, asks in “The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss.” There is, she argues, very little empirical evidence that people actually grieve by going through five lengthy stages. Instead, she argues, most people grieve pretty quickly, and in their own way. She cites studies which show, for example, that most people accept the loss of a loved one almost immediately — they are “more resilient” than the stages suggest, and more quickly ready to move on with life. Research suggests, she argues, that grief is “a grab bag of symptoms that come and go and, eventually, simply lift.” What really determines how you grieve is simply how resilient your personality is in general.