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The Friendly Witch Doctor

Disclaimer. Before you ask, no, I am not a doctor nor do I play one on television. I just find the topic fascinating and I love to do research. As you will see, I am backing things up with references to actual professional opinions. Now that you have read this far, remember, I am not a doctor so any advice, diagnosis or treatment should be done only by a professional. If you have any concerns, make an appointment with your doctor.

Death is the cycle of life. Every complex cell organism dies. There is no escaping that fact that death is coming for us and there is nothing we can do about it.

One part of life is facing the fact that one day you will die. It's usually something people avoid speaking or thinking about. One day you, or someone you love, will be here and at any moment's notice gone. This means every moment you have is precious time to spend on living. And it helps your family to know your thoughts on your death. It is very important to talk about what to do in the end.

Some people mourn their losses. Others celebrate the life of the loved one. Some do both. There are many types of reactions to grief, and some accept stages accredited to Këbler-Ross as gospel. There are those who find comfort in a belief they will meet their loved ones in another life. And there are those who are at peace and accept the end.

How you grieve should not be judged by others. Sometimes it makes other people uncomfortable when others are really sad or highly emotional. It's not for them to discount your feelings just because it makes the other person feel uneasy; that's their problem and they are entitled to feel uneasy, too. We are not all the same and we have different ways to feel about a death of someone we love.

Then there is a death of someone we really did not like in life. Those with a belief in afterlife feel as if the person is a "sinner" they will go to hell. Those without a belief accept the fact and might celebrate the death or simply feel nothing. Sometime people might really hate someone, but don't want to show their own feelings out of respect for those who do love them. Again, everyone approaches death in different ways.

As different people, we grieve in different ways. Many people are familiar with the stages of death by the Këbler-Ross model (Patricelli, 1995) of grief for both the living and the dying:

  1. Denial - Unwilling to accept or face the fact that of dying or a death.
  2. Anger - Mad at the fact that one (or a loved one) had (have) so much to live for and now that window of opportunity is closed.
  3. Bargaining - Wanting to bargain with God or other forces to ask this does not happen or the loved one will come back to them.
  4. Depression - The sadness that those who have gone (or have already gone) is not going to ever be in their lives and a part of them feels missing.
  5. Acceptance - Realizing this is final and there is nothing more to do but move on.

That model is controversial because not everyone goes through all of the stages in that order. Some might have none of these feeling while others might go back and forth on this list or have only a few of them. Michael Shermer (2008) quotes The Grief Recovery Handbook (HarperCollins, 1998), “no study has ever established that stages of grief actually exist, and what are defined as such can’t be called stages. Grief is the normal and natural emotional response to loss.... No matter how much people want to create simple, bullet-point guidelines for the human emotions of grief, there are no stages of grief that fit any two people or relationships.” He goes on to point out people love to have things neat and simple so a list seems right. Shermer points out that grief is not the same for all people and people are too complex to be put in a box of neat lists. There have never been any studies to prove this list.

We can all agree that death is the end of life, whether or not you believe in an afterlife or not we know that end will come. But it is hard for most people to come to terms with their own end. One day we will die and no longer be able to participate in the people we loved or things things we did while living. Belief in afterlife or not, one day we will meet an ending. It is because of this finality we should love our loved ones more and live our lives to the fullest because one day we will lose that chance forever.

This section of AAA Resources will continue the dialog on those topics and more. When consulting the index, you should take note that some sections will use graphic language which might be uncomfortable or children or the squeamish. Those will be marked as +++. Keep in mind, death is not easy at all to delve into for many people and not all will be marked as such. Use your discretion.


Patricelli, Kathryn MA, (1995). stage Of Grief Models: Kubler-Ross. Edited by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Retrieved from Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. website on October 22, 2016 at

Shermer, Michael, ph.D (2008, November 1). Five Fallacies of Grief: Debunking Psychological Stages. Retrieved from Scientific American website on October 22, 2016 at