Stages of Grief Paper

Stages of Grief Paper


Stagesof Grief Paper

Stagesof Grief Paper

Reflectionson Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s “Lament of the Son”

Dr.Wolterstorff was fifty one years old when he received a heartbreakingphone call informing him about his son’s, Eric’s, death. Eric wasa victim of a tragic accident while on a mountain climbingexpedition. The death of his son brought a lot of questions on Dr.Wolterstorff’s mind. He writes,

“Itis so wrong, so profoundly wrong for a child to die before itsparents. It is hard enough to bury our parents. But that we expect.How can I bury my son, my future, one of the next in line?”(Wolterstorff, N. (1987).

Theabove words show the pain of a father or a parent for the loss oftheir child. Wolterstorff lamented, at some point, contended that Godmust have caused the tremor that caused his son to slip on snow anddied. However, the lamentations do not go on for a long time asWolterstorff later gets a different perspective through the Bible. Instead of thinking that God must have been responsible for his son’sdeath, he realizes that Good too shares the grief of his loss. Thechange of perspective emanates from Wolterstorff’s awareness thatGod too lost his son to death. After his new perspective about God’sfeelings over his son’s death, Wolterstorff writes, “through ourtears, we see the tears of God” (p.80). The story of job alsoencourages Wolterstorff as well. He knew that lamentations may notbring the answers he sought. Like job, he would rather accept andmove on. The story of job was a source of encouragement and emotionalstrength. Wolterstorff looked up to God’s hand of reprieve thesame way it happened to job. Another source of hope for Wolterstorffwas the gospel of Mark, which elaborates the story of resurrection.

Kubler-Ross’sfive stages of grief throughout “The lament of the son”

Wolterstorff’sexperiences through his book, “lament of the son” embody the fivestages of grief as postulated by Kubler-ross. From the timeWolterstorff receives the news of his son’s demise to the time herealizes that there is hope in God, the stages of grief are evident.The stages are universal and people who have faced the reality ofloss must go through all the five stages to achieve true emotionalhealing (Kübler-Ross &amp Kessler, 2005). In Wolterstorff’scontext, the stages of grief include:

  1. Denial and isolation: The first stage involves denying the reality of losing a loved one. This stage is important because it enables one to rationalize the overwhelming grief that comes with such bad news. It is a psychological defense mechanism that occurs naturally. Wolterstorff denied the loss of his son by thinking that God must have caused the shaking that pushed his son down from the mountains.

  2. Anger: After denying reality, the loved one of the deceased may direct their anger to other people, relatives, or inanimate objects. Sometimes, one may blame themselves for not doing enough to prevent the death of a loved one. Dr. Wolterstorff directed his anger at God at first. He thought God failed to be in control of the situation and left his son to perish.

  3. Bargaining: At this stage, one seeks to regain control of the situation due to feeling vulnerable and helpless. Some people seek an agreement with God or their deity as a way to procrastinate the pain of loss. Wolterstorff wondered why God allowed that to happen yet neither he nor his son deserved it. However, he knew that his son would have died some day.

  4. Depression: The first depression is due to the implications of the loss. The second type is a subtle depression where the loved one quietly seeks to bid farewell to the dead. Dr. Wolterstorff experienced the second stage due to his Christian orientation.

  5. Acceptance: People cope with the loss of a loved at this stage. They consider that happen as a natural step in life. Others like Dr. Wolterstorff turn to spiritual therapy. Wolterstorff uses the story of resurrection and God’s sharing of human grief as a source of hope and a way to accept the loss.

Themeaning and significance of death

Dr.Wolterstorff’s experiences in the narrative show that death is atransition to another stage of life for a Christian (McCracken &ampSemel, 2000). He later learned, through the gospel of Mark, that ifDeath was the ultimate fate for human beings, God would not haveallowed his son to suffer and face it. Thus, Christians need not toworry about death because they have another chance of life throughJesus Christ. Furthermore, God shares the suffering of loss the humanbeings go through when their loved ones die. However, the hope thatGod provides to Christians lies in the resurrection that will happento all that believed in him at his second descend to earth.

Thehope of resurrection

Wolterstorffrealized that God may have used his mighty power to save the world,but he instead allowed his only son to experience human suffering andface death. However, he resurrected from death so that his people canas well have the chance to see life once again after they die. Thegospel of Mark gave Wolterstorff the hope of meeting his son againafter the resurrection. Eventually, Wolterstorff healed and got overhis loss.


Kübler-Ross,E., &amp Kessler, D. (2005). Ongrief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the fivestages of loss.New York: Scribner.

McCracken,A., &amp Semel, M. (2000). Abroken heart still beats: After your child dies.Hazelden Publishing.

Wolterstorff,N. (1987). Lamentfor a son.Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans.