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Most people are familiar with the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. From our existential point of view the paradigm could be whittled down to the duality of non-acceptance and acceptance.

Grief is a kaleidoscope of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Denial, anger, bargaining, and depression are only a small slice of these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. What they all have in common is that they represent non-acceptance. They are the attempt not to come to terms with what has happened but to rail against it.

There is nothing noble about accepting that which can be changed for the better but intrinsic in grief is the fact that the loss in question is irrevocable. When a loss is irrevocable acceptance is noble. There are few things more difficult to do in this world than to let go of what we love. The instinct is to hold on. This is why so many people never close their grief gestalt, they never reach that stage of acceptance, they spend the remainder of their lives looking backwards rather than forwards.

Acceptance isn’t about looking backwards or forwards though, it’s about mindfully touching the present as it is instead of how it should be. Only on the foundation of acceptance is it possible to build a life again, to start growing again. This doesn’t mean the loss will ever go away or be forgotten. A tree struck by lighting will always be blackened and broken in that area even as it starts to grow around it. But acceptance says, “This is my life as it currently stands, and no amount of wishful thinking can change it.”