How I see it …. things that come back to bite you

As a predominantly positivist quantitative researcher, my goal is usually to explain why something is the way it is and provide a logical conclusion. Coupled with this, I am a nurse who has an inherent desire to problem solve an fix things seeing solutions long before the plan to get to these is fully formulated. What happens when these two skills do not allow you to overcome a problem adequately?

Today I discuss grief, which is not a new experience to me yet is still providing me with learning opportunities.

Grief is an interesting concept which doesn’t neatly fit into a box or category that be fixed, and therefore I find living in this space challenging; there are many theories to explain it, yet the experience is very individual and doesn’t fit into my schedule or lifestyle.

Some might quote “the stages of grief” first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross that became a popular way to categorise grief.

  • 1. Denial and isolation
  • 2. Anger
  • 3. Bargaining
  • 4. Depression
  • 5. Acceptance

Today I have been considering the application of these stages of grief to some situations I find myself in and want to discuss the challenges of navigating these.

Interestingly, I have experienced all of these stages of grief for differing reasons in the last week and as a consequence learned about the compounding nature of this experience.

For example, one experience (this week), triggered a previous knowledge of grief (20 years ago), which in turn triggered the third experience of grief (16 years ago). All with different context but interlinked and at varying stages and severity.

One of the things I learned from this is that multiple forms of grief can be concurrent; however, deciphering the nature and origin of each thought or feeling can be challenging. Using Kubler-Ross stages of grief as an example, I found myself, angry, frustrated, bargaining and depression concurrently but for different reasons. The challenge I have noticed is that processing all of these can become erratic, for example, bargaining in relation to one experience can trigger and then enhance anger in another, depression can trigger isolation and blaming oneself.

I will end with a positive experience of acceptance. I was teaching a class of around 100 students this afternoon, multiple perceptions of the same situation along with this the discussion also included those beginning nurses may operate without seeing the bigger picture until they have the knowledge and experience to allow a broader view. We also discussed the need to be aware that this could occur.

To illustrate this (along with the clinical examples), I used several personal stories. In particular, this was to use my experience of glaucoma, retina damage and lack of peripheral vision to illustrate that there are ways to compensate for “tunnel vision”. It was a first for me to be completely honest with my class about my reduced vision. In the past I may have alluded to it but not overtly told the class as a part of a lecture. The interesting part for me was that this showed acceptance of reduced vision and it was natural to discuss. However, until this time it had been uncomfortable for me to discuss this in a public environment (other than by blog).To illustrate this (along with the clinical examples), I used several personal stories. In particular, this was to use my experience of glaucoma, retina damage and lack of peripheral vision to illustrate that there are ways to compensate for “tunnel vision”. It was a first for me to be completely honest with my class about my reduced vision. In the past, I may have alluded to it but not overtly told the class as a part of a lecture. The interesting part for me was that this showed acceptance of reduced vision, and it was natural to discuss. However, until this time, it had been uncomfortable for me to discuss this in a public environment (other than my blog).

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