Most are probably familiar with the so-called 'Stages of Grief' that get thrown around in popular culture: 

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining 
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance 

These stages were developed by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969, when Kubler-Ross identified a gap in research and literature related to death and dying. What's important to note is that these stages were not created to explain the process of grief for those left behind when someone dies. Instead, these stages were meant to help conceptualize what a dying person might experience as their illness progresses and death draws near. Kubler-Ross never intended these stages to be applied to those left behind, nor did she intend for grief to be understood as a linear process that one must 'get through' to 'get over' the death of a loved one. 

Grief looks different for everyone. It is not something to 'conquer,' but it is something to explore, feel, and grapple with. 

However, it can help to have a general framework when processing grief. One model I find helpful when working with kids and teens is the 'TEAR model.' This model is based on the work of William Worden, who identified four tasks of grieving. The goal is not to accomplish and move on from loss but to explore it, process it, honor the deceased, and create a path forward that feels meaningful.

 

Grief is not a 'one-size fits all' experience and my work with clients dealing with loss reflects this. More important than any stage or task model are the unique experiences, feelings, and beliefs of the person sitting across from me. Loss can be an overwhelming experience but not one you need navigate alone.