(8) What Can We Do With Models?

Many models exist in today’s world. A model like Newton’s Law, remember the apple falling from the tree, is pretty accurate but has its flaws. We have models for traffic control or navigating ships. Models predicting the stock market, or the heating in our house. We have models for human behavior or assessing your type of personality. We have many … many models in use today in almost every aspect of our daily live.

Many models exist in today’s world. A model like Newton’s Law, remember the apple falling from the tree, is pretty accurate but has its flaws. We have models for traffic control or navigating ships. Models predicting the stock market, or the heating in our house. We have models for human behavior or assessing your type of personality. We have many … many models in use today in almost every aspect of our daily live.

Many models exist in today’s world. A model like Newton’s Law, remember the apple falling from the tree, is pretty accurate but has its flaws. We have models for traffic management or navigating ships. Models predicting the stock market, the climate or the heating in our house. We have models for human behavior or assessing your type of personality. We have many … many models in use today in almost every aspect of our daily live.

Models may be modern but not necessarily new. Many models we use today were developed decades ago, some even ages ago. Once there is a model which can applied in your area of expertise it can be used for assessing the situation you are in, or for suggesting options to choose from for improving this, or predicting the outcome of actions taken… or… actions you are intending to take. Applying a model this way provides security, certainty.

A model has its downsides though. Just to name a few, a model is a simplification of reality, sometimes a far cry of the real thing. Or people use a model as a tool without understanding its background and its limitations. Or people have become so reliant on a model which controls a process, like flying a plane, that as soon as it demonstrates unexpected behavior they don’t know what to do anymore in order to quickly take control of it themselves.

I have met many people who are using models as the sole truth. They see it as reality, that is their reality, and anything else is either not true, not possible or even considered beyond normal. So, don’t be shocked when a model does not work for you, especially when you need to deal with… grief.

A famous model in dealing with grief is “The 5 Stages of Grief” developed by Elisabeth Kübler Ross. The 5 stages i.e. (i) Denial, (ii) Anger, (iii) Bargaining, (iv) Depression and (v) Acceptance are not intended to be worked through and ticked off. The stages could be used as sign posts to help understand what you feel, or where you are in your bereavement. The model also describes what is meant by each stage, what could be felt or observed. More importantly by using it this way the model provides guidance.

Another model that is more generally applied is the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” which defines your personality type. The model characterizes your preference (i) of the general attitude, extravert vs. introvert, and (ii) your preferences within your mental functions, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling and judging vs. perceiving. Once you understand your type of personality the model provides behavior and communication guide lines in relation to other people.

It does not necessarily mean that all of us “walk through” Elisabeth’s model in the same way. By applying Myers-Briggs we can conclude that all of us will respond differently to each stage. It could be that you are not even aware of one or more of the stages. It also does mean that the duration in dealing with our grief is different for each of us. Some of us will not even complete the process. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be happy and enjoy life.

Be careful though, your partner, children, family and friends are different personalities, living and raised under different conditions, within different timeframes and hence are dealing with their grieve in a different way than you do. There is no doubt about that, it’s a fact of life.

The first hurdle you need to take is becoming aware of what is happening with you. That could take weeks, months, sometimes even years; it all depends on your personality and how you live. Once you are aware of, or observe your feelings then the models can explain what is happening to you. Then you begin to understand … and to look forward again and… and you start dealing with your grief.

So does that mean that you have dealt with your grief at this point, that it is done and dusted? No, not even close. Does it mean that you can ever deal with your grief, that it will be closed in a foreseeable future? Yes, maybe… but… maybe not.

Personally I am certain that I will take my grief with me in the grave. Does that mean that I am unhappy? Certainly not, I am a very happy person but sometimes … when you hear that special sound again, that special tune again, when you smell that special perfume again, when … then I travel back in time to those moments we were happy together. I feel all the pain again … but… differently … it’s as if I am sad and happy at the same time … it’s an ambivalent feeling.

Hence, yes we can use models for guidance but, we cannot predict how you specifically will respond.

It is what it is. It is has made me the person I am today; as will happen to each of us at some point in time.

Author: Hans Fransen

Founder of the Mourn & Grief Foundation

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