How are the stages of acceptance similar to the stages of grief?

A while back, the topic of an Oprah Winfrey show was mad cow disease; an outbreak of which had occurred in Britain. The disease in cattle has been linked to a related disease in humans that kills people by slowing destroying brain tissue.

Cattle producers claimed that the remarks on Winfrey’s top-rated talk show subsequently sent cattle prices tumbling, costing them $12 million.

Oprah Winfrey was accused of creating a “lynch mob mentality” among members of her studio audience to produce a “scary” story about the safety of beef, according to attorneys for a group of Texas cattle producers, who went on to sue the talk show host.

… Bear with the story; I’m almost to a straight forward answer.

Dr. Phil was brought in because, initially, the trial was not going Oprah’s way. This was the first time the two met. He applied his expertise in trial analytics and told her, “You’re right, science backs you up and everything you said about your case is defensible and correct. But, this jury is going to find you guilty, because its members don’t care about the facts!”

Oprah was shocked to learn about how she was perceived by those people and kept uttering the words: “I just can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.”

Dr. Phil put his hands on her shoulders, looked her in the eye and said, “Until you start to believe it, this problem ain’t going away. Acceptance is the only way to move forward, without it you’ll just stay stuck in a cycle denial. Say to yourself, This IS happening. This IS Happening, and you’ll free your mind and find a way to get through it.” … or something like that.

She accepted her predicament and eventually won the case.

So how is acceptance like grief? Only negative things need to be accepted: The loss of a job, a pet, a loved one, a health crisis. You don’t hear people saying, I just need to learn to accept my bonus check, a dream vacation, the arrival of my soul mate. Those are all “h*ll yeah!” situations that probably include a bear hug.

To accept loss, set backs, physical limitations, etc… means giving up the hope that things could possibly change. Acceptance is the end and with any ending there is grief.

Final note, even “happy” events can trigger grief/acceptance. Marriage, childbirth, buying a home, etc. “should” feel great right? Not always. With events like these, comes great responsibility too. So, you may not understand your melancholy. But, if you resist (instead of accept) the responsibility or ignore the things you’ve lost, your subconscious will work to destroy them.

It’s not easy being a grown up, but if you can, not only, accept your circumstance, but focus on what you’re grateful for – every day – you’ll be MUCH happier person.

Case in point, my sister died a couple of weeks ago. I could choose grief, acceptance or… gratitude. I choose the later, and when I think of her (which is ALL the time), I smile knowing how much we loved and appreciated each other. How lucky is that? I LOVED someone for their entire life! What a gift. And what a wicked sense of humor she had. Even in death, memories of her make me giggle.

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