Monday, May 11, 2009

The Journey to Acceptance

Forty years ago, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler–Ross published a book titled "On Death and Dying," which identified the five stages a person goes through in coming to terms with death (either that person's impending death or the death of someone he/she is close to) or some other catastrophic loss (job, divorce, etc.).

Those stages are:
  1. Denial

  2. Anger

  3. Bargaining

  4. Depression

  5. Acceptance
The book elaborates on each stage. They're mostly self–explanatory, I think, although, if you aren't familiar with these stages of grief, it might help to add a little explanation about "bargaining." In that stage, a person "bargains" with a higher power to spare his/her life or the life of a terminally ill person.

Kübler–Ross said these stages do not necessarily come in this order, and not everyone experiences all of them. But she said most people go through at least two. Presumably, a person can make the transition to the acceptance stage more smoothly if there is someone around to help.

Back in 1998, unemployment was not nearly as extensive as it is today, but the "Frasier" show used Kübler–Ross' five stages of grief as the basis for an episode about Frasier losing his job. Although it was presented in the context of a situation comedy, there are probably many people today who could relate to what Frasier went through.

Some of the jobless folks — especially the ones who have recently lost their jobs — may not realize that adjusting to the loss of a job is like adjusting to a terminal illness. The "Frasier" sixth season premiere (you can see the final one–third of the episode in the clip that is attached to this post) should be required viewing for all who lose their jobs. I think it would speed up the acceptance process.

As it so often did, "Frasier" provides real wisdom at the same time that it entertains.

But the truth is that there's nothing funny about the journey to acceptance. It can be tough. Unfortunately, not all of the millions of people who have lost their jobs in this recession are as fortunate as Frasier to have loving friends and family who stand ready to help.

And that's one of the most important factors.

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