Five Stages of Grief*

Biblical or Psycho-Occultic?

-  Transpersonal psychologist and New Ager Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004) (who, among other things, encouraged the occult practice of achieving out-of-body experiences)# developed the concept of the Five Stages of Grief, first from the perspective of the dying person:

She taught that not every dying person had to go precisely through each stage, but emotional health would be more likely achieved if each did. From the above, Kübler-Ross laid the groundwork from which other psychologists developed five stages of grief necessary for the emotional well-being of the surviving friends and family members:

More recently, the teachings of the Five Stages have been brought into the church by so-called "Christian" [Freudian] psychiatrists Paul Meier and Frank Minirth, and by psychologist James Dobson. The concept has gained even greater popularity through pop psychologizers D. James Kennedy, Charles Swindoll, Charles Stanley, and others.

-  The Psalms poignantly and accurately reveal the deep emotions felt by God's people. One of those emotions is grief (Psalms 6:7; 31:9,10). We are admonished to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) and to encourage one another to draw near to the God of all comfort. But it seems at every turn after a tragedy there is someone standing ready to ask, "What stage are you at now?," referring to this so-called grief process. It seems that the grief process proponents deny the "everlasting consolation and the good hope through grace" and the "patience and comfort of the Scriptures" available to us through Jesus Christ. It is His all-sufficient and satisfying comfort that is able to "establish us in every good word and work."

This is our consolation and comfort in affliction -- Thy Word. Is it not even the doctrine of our Lord's return that comforts and saves us from superfluous "anger, denial, bargaining, and depression" following trial and tragedy? We are first to admit the pain, overwhelming pain at times, coupled with disobedience and doubts; we are first to admit the "night watches" of controversy between the soul and the flesh, convincing the soul to "Hope thou in God." But, the insisted stages of grief, and in the proper order -- NO. This "concoction" is from psychology. It contorts the mind, will, and emotions unnecessarily, and especially when one is already vulnerable following tragedy.

-  Nurses have always noticed that people experience various emotions during the process of death and grief. Then Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and others codified grief into a system -- emotions in steps. Never mind the fact that not all people experience the same thing or in the same order. Therapists and others often think that if a person does not grieve in a prescribed way, he has not completed the process and will be emotionally damaged for it. Thus, they work at making people express anger and cry during "grief work" types of therapy. "Grievers" are told to relive the experience of their real loss in an artificial setting, which often demands them to go through each of the prescribed steps of grief in a manner acceptable to the therapist. People are forced to feel the pain of their loss again (in contrived circumstances) and to express their agony (in the presence of a therapist). Invariably, the "patient" is worse off for the therapy than before.

Research continues to verify that such "grief work" is of no effect: "Time remains the best healer for bereavement, according to a pair of new studies. And 'grief work' usually doesn't work at all. Two studies … find no benefit in helping people disclose their feelings about a loved one's death. Belgian researchers Margaret and Wolfgang Stroebe and Henk Schut asked people widowed within the last three months to complete two questionnaires. … In the second study, Schut and the Stroebes examined whether writing about feelings helped. … Distress decreased for all the groups, suggesting that time, not any intervention, was the healer" (excerpted from  Psychotherapy Networker, Vol. 26, No. 4, p. 18). (Source: Jan-Feb 2003, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter; "Psych Notes" section.)

[Note: "Now an examination of about 500 studies on grief and bereavement, led by social worker Janice Genevro, concludes that there's no one-size-fits-all model for grieving, that grief therapy doesn’t shorten grieving, and that it doesn't significantly alleviate the intensity or side effects of grief" (excerpted from Psychotherapy Networker, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 21, 22).  [The 182-page report discussing Genevro’s work is issued by the Center for the Advancement for Health and is available free at the Center's web site.]

-  The Lord isn't sufficient for the professional therapists, who have to make it happen according to the steps of the grief formula. But what excuse do professing Christians have for "Christianizing" this same five-step grief process, and giving it precedence over Christ and His powerful and all- sufficient Word (2 Peter 1:3,4)? We believe that many who try to force a so-called grief process on others are playing god and bringing more grief than they are resolving. Not only are people harmed, the Lord is being dishonored. God's children are being led to believe that He is not enough -- that He is not really the God of all comfort. God's grace is cheapened and His children are cheated.

* Much of the material in this report has been adapted or excerpted from an article in the Summer 1992, PsychoHeresy Update ("Death and Dying: Grief By Prescription"); PsychoHeresy Update is now the PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter and is published by PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110.

# Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's 1969 book On Death and Dying helped launch the hospice movement in America. She became involved in the 1970s with a New Age cult, "spirit guides," and practiced "out of body" experiences. Her husband divorced her. When incapacitated by a series of strokes in 1995, she did nothing but sit at home in Arizona "smoking cigarettes, watching TV, and waiting to die" (Dr. Hugh Pyle, 8/22/97, Sword). She said: "I don't give a hoot about the afterlife, reincarnation, or anything. I'm finished, and I'm not coming back." Before her death in August of 2004, she said, "I am like a plane that has left the gate and not taken off. I would rather go back to the gate or fly away." At the time, she was living in Arizona, claiming to enjoy "the daily company of the birds and coyotes," and had written a new book, Life Lessons, supposedly teaching "us about the mysteries of life and living" (Kübler-Ross Internet website, 1/03).

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 12/2004