Sunday 28 May, 2017
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Five stages of crisis response to loss (including election loss)

BY NIK NIKAM, MD

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a nurse, in her book, “The Death and Dying,” explains five stages of human responses or reactions to a calamity in life like losing an election, losing a family member, a serious accident, or diagnosis of cancer, etc.

1. Shock and Disbelief: This is a phase where people go into a state of shock and utter disbelief. Some people pass out. This is to the physical and emotional loss. This is a short-term response. As the initial shock sinks, still, people can’t believe what has just transpired. They think it is just a dream and the next morning it will be back to normal.

2. Grief and pain: A calamity creates a sense of loss that is unbearable that leads to grief. People feel the emotional and physical pain due to the loss. This is the most painful of all experiences. People lose identity and purpose if life after a misfortune.

3. Anger and resentment: The disbelief and grief turn into anger and resentment. People begin to blame themselves and everyone around them what has occurred. This is a natural human response and has no relationship to the level of education or social status. This anger can lead to irrational action, violence, etc.

4. Anxiety: As the anger and resentment settles, the anxiety settles in and expressed by so many people about their future in this election loss. They are anxious about their life, safety, and many other unknown variables. Some of them are real, and some of them are perceived. It would not make a difference if the issues or real or imagined.

5. Acceptance and adaptation: Finally, we realize that the world has changed. The loss cannot be undone. Slowly we begin to accept the loss and try to live with the loss. Begin to start a new life with the reality that we still have to live our lives despite these tragic loses.

How do we deal with these crises?

Express your shock, disbelief, pain, anger, and resentment. Find someone who can help you get through the crises, someone who can shine a light on your future, and lend a shoulder to lean on. Join a support group. Seek medical help if you cannot handle it yourself. Avoid isolation as it can lead to distractive thoughts. Face the issues and try not to avoid the body’s responses. But, get some help if needed. Avoid violence, drugs, alcohol, etc. Look for a new direction in life and count your blessings. Have a sense of humor. Time is the greatest healer of all types of crises, and allow yourself some time, get up and keep on living.

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