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Mind & Mood

Prolonged illness and grieving

March 01, 2011

When terminal illness lasts a long time, so does saying goodbye.

The death of someone you love is never easy to experience, whether it comes suddenly or after a long illness. And the way we grieve depends on the circumstances. Over the years, experts have proposed many models of grief to help people understand what they're going through. Elisabeth K´┐Żbler-Ross introduced the idea of "five stages of grief" (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) in 1969 in her landmark book, On Death and Dying. In those days, sudden and unexpected death was more common than it is now. Thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment, people are living longer with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancers and heart disease. One book argues that this changing reality has changed the grieving process as well.

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