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Stages of Grief


Stagesof Grief

Grief is the process that an individual goes through following thedeath of a loved one. It is a process because it comprises ofdifferent stages that a person has to undergo as he/she confronts theloss of his/her loved one until a time when he/she accepts thereality that the deceased is no more. Wolterstorff’s reflectiondemonstrates the various stages involved when a person is grieving.He is grieving the loss of his Son Eric, who died aged 25 years. Hedied on a mountain climbing exercise. The major reason Wolterstorffmourns the death of Eric is because he believes that cshildren arethe future. As such, children should bury their parents and not thereverse. Additionally, he feels that he did get an opportunity to saygoodbye to his son. It is for these reasons that he is wishing thatEric should have fallen sick before dying for him to have a chance tosay goodbye.

Kubler-Ross model of grief comprises of five stages denial, anger,bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Patriceli, 2015). In thedenial stage, a person perceives that the diagnosis was mistaken ormaybe the loss did not occur. As such, he/she clings to the falsereality. In Wolterstorff’s case, the denial stage manifests itselfwhen he begins thinking about what could have happened if Eric didnot climb the mountain. The second stage is anger and occurs when aperson realizes that he/she cannot live in denial forever. As such,the person becomes aggressive, especially to people around him/her.He/she may use expressions such as “it is not fair” or “I amthe one to blame” (Patriceli, 2015). In the case of Wolterstorff,his anger towards the death of his son is seen when he starts askingwhy Eric climbed the mountain alone. Also, he is angry at himselfbecause he feels that he should have been with Eric before his deathfor him to say goodbye. After anger, a person progresses to thebargaining stage. At this stage, the person is optimistic that thereis something he/she can do to avoid the cause of his/her grief.Wolterstorff is bargaining when he begins to think that it would havebeen better if Eric died of a disease.Depression follows thebargaining stage and it entails a person beginning to despair aftercoming to terms with his/her mortality status. Wolterstorff decidesto go against the norm of his society that forbids men from crying.Besides, he feels like he was in a war and neglected one of hissoldiers resulting is his death. Lastly, a person enters theacceptance stage in which he/she finally come to terms with his/herloss (Patriceli, 2015). At the end of the reflection, Wolterstorffaccepts the reality of the death of his son when he finally gathersthe courage to call his entire family and inform them that Eric wasdead. He also informs them that although Eric was dead, they shouldcontinue living as if he was still alive.

How does Wolterstorff find joy after his loss?

Religion plays a crucial role in Wolterstorff’s journey to findingjoy following the death of his son. He is consoled by the belief thatGod is suffering together with him following the death of his son. Besides, one of his friends console him and tells him, “remember heis good hands” (Wolterstorff, 2009). He also learns thatGod is love hence by taking Eric he did not mean to make Wolterstorffsuffer. Also, Wolterstorff’s belief that he will be able to talkto his son again in the next world and this perception consoles him.Wolterstorff also remembers the promise God made to mourners that Hewill console them. He, therefore, finds peace in knowing that he isnot alone and particularly God is with him. Through the prism of histears, Wolterstorff was able to see a suffering God. God shares thesuffering His people go through (Wolterstorff, 2009).

What is the meaning and significance of death in light of theChristian narrative?

According to Christians, Death is the transition from the earthlylife that is full of sufferings to the internal one where believerswith celebrates with God. Death is viewed as the only way to get toHeaven. In II Timothy 4:6 Paul says, “For I am now ready to beoffered and the time of my departure is at hand” (What death meansfor the believer in Christ,” 2016). Also, death is perceived byChristians as a way of connecting believers with God. For example,Christians are expected to turn to the Bible whenever they aregrieving, and this brings them closer to God. Christians alsobelieve that death is a blessing in disguise. One of the beatitudessays &quotBlessed are they that mourn” (What death means for thebeliever in Christ,” 2016). Additionally, Christians view death asthe enemy because it separates a person from his body. They believethat God intended the body and soul to remain intact and hence deathis “not a friend, but an enemy (Wolterstorff, 2009). However,according to Christians, the separation created by death is notpermanent. For example, in II Sam. 12: 23, David said after losinghis son, “Can I bring him back? I shall go to him, but he shall notreturn to me” (What death means for the believer in Christ,”2016). As such, death reunites Christians with their loved ones whodied before them.

How does the hope of the resurrection play a role in comfortingWolterstorff?

The belief in resurrection assures Wolterstorff that he will see hisdead son again. He can picture their lives together after he dies. Hesays “Will I hear Eric say someday, really now I mean: ‘Hey Dad.I’m back”’ (Wolterstorff, 2009). The belief that God raisedJesus from the dead gives Wolterstorff the assurance that Ericwill resurrect too. At the beginning of the reflection, Wolterstorffblames himself for neglecting Eric when he needed him the most hencethe hope of resurrection consoles him because it gives him anassurance that he will get a chance to ask for forgiveness from hisson.


“What death means for the believer in Christ.” (2016). Accessedon November 12, 2016.https://bible.org/seriespage/what-death-means-believer-christ

Patriceli, K. (2015). Stages of grief model: Kubler-Ross-grief &ampbereavement issues.” Accessed on November 12, 2016.http://www.amhc.org/58-grief-bereavement-issues/article/8444-stage-of-grief-models-kubler-ross

Wolterstorff, N. (2009). Lament for a son. Grand Rapids, Michigan:William B. Friedman’s Publishing Company.