Stage 5: Acceptance – By entering the new reality by coming to terms with it, it is the fact that the “new” truth is your former self is never coming back. You have grasped that you had a stroke. There are many different ways that you can feel during this stage. 

Acceptance is more about acknowledging the losses you are experiencing and learning to live with them. This stage is a time of adjustment and readjustment. You may never feel acceptance. It is understandable. There are bad days when one feels uncontrollably sad, and then the good days return.

IMPORTANT – a note to yourself – this is not necessarily an uplifting or happy stage in the grieving process. It does not necessarily mean that you have moved on from the stroke event. Acceptance isn’t necessarily about being okay with the loss.

It is important to remember that reaching the acceptance stage does not stop “moving back” to another stage of grief. Moving back and forth between stages is natural and all part of the healing process.

<News Flash> David Kessler (remember he was a protégé of Kübler-Ross) went beyond their work together to discover a sixth stage, meaning. He based his work on hard-earned personal experiences and his knowledge and wisdom gained through decades of work with grieving. Kessler introduced a critical sixth stage, meaning.

Stage 6: Finding Meaning – This stage is finding ways to give you a roadmap to remembering your former self. You can learn how to move forward in a way that honors yourself; before and after your stroke.

Many people look for “closure” after a loss. It is finding meaning beyond the five stages of grief most of us are familiar with. It can transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience.

This stage is searching for ways to honor yourself. For example, you may take up new practices or work to help others. You may look for ways to put the pieces of your and your loved ones’ lives together again to move forward. 

Eventually, one will begin to accept their new way of life gradually. They may start seeing possibilities of the future and other sources of hope. 

Other Musings on Grief

Dave Kessler tells a story. He was speaking at a conference in a big hotel. Other meetings were going on in the rooms around his room. “Afterwards a member of the hotel cleaning team came up to me and asked, ‘What was your group working on? Because so much laughter was coming from your room.'”

Kessler says that people who have been in the deepest depths of despair have the broadest bandwidth when enjoying life. “When you’ve traveled through the deepest valleys, you surely appreciate the views from the highest hills.” For those who have traveled together through the deepest of valleys, this is an uplifting message to hear and get it in their soul.

If you choose to put your feelings with grief off indefinitely, you will continually be stuck in the first four stages until you decide to face them directly, and you will move on to the last stages of grief.

Grieving is an arduous process. It is not unusual for those going through it to need professional help. If you or someone you love is stuck in one of the stages of grief, they may be experiencing a complicated grief disorder. Also, you can use the term complicated bereavement disorder. While difficulties during grieving are typical, if the grief becomes debilitating or chronic, it is time to get help. 

Please know this about your grief: there is no wrong way to do it. Grieving is as individual as each of us. Our grieving needs are different for each of us. Sure, there are some similarities, but we all have our unique slant on grieving!

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