Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was one of the worlds leading experts on the subject of death and dying. Her explanation of the “five stages of grief” – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance – is now well-known, as are her books On Death and Dying (1969) and Life Lessons (2001). Her final publication, On Grief and Grieving (2005), was co-authored with David Kessler during the preparations for her own death. This last work dispels some of the myths and misunderstandings of the five stages and provides very practical advice to those navigating the loss of a loved one. She presents the stages not as linear categories for how a person “should” feel, but as tools for recognizing and understanding the complicated emotions that attend the process of grief. To my mind, this book has application far beyond the subject of dying – her stages of grief can apply to the loss of a dream, a career, or a relationship. And while Kübler-Ross espouses a spiritual worldview (which includes belief in God, prayer, and the afterlife), her counsel is not directly tied to the religious beliefs she holds. In other words, this book can benefit anyone no matter what their worldview is. I would recommend On Grief and Grieving to anyone whose life has been shattered by loss and is trying to understand the internal and external turmoil that results. Kübler-Ross describes the process of grief in a way that validates our emotions and challenges us to hope again. – HBR
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Scribner, 2005.