Stages of Grief, Stages of Joy

Swiss-born Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was well known for her model on the five stages of grief.


As one who appreciates acronyms to help my brain remember, DABDA is what I use.

Kubler-Ross used the model widely. Initially to help map some of the journey that people experienced in death and dying. But later also to map stages of adapting to significant life change — a move, a divorce, empty nest, change of a job, etc. She was helping to name that change, and grief, aren’t one step, nor a complete linear path.

I’m glad for a literacy with grief. I’m finding it very needed to acknowledge grief not just as a rare occurrences, but rather, as a regular background staple. So as to be healthy in the pace of change and adaptation that contemporary life so often requires. I’m glad for reclaiming cultural practices that teach us that ability to grieve is path to wholeness and wellness.

For fun the other day, I decided I wanted to play with the same acronym to create stages of joy. DABDA Grief to DABDA Joy.


As with the grief stages, I’m not looking to map an overly linear process. Rather to just build some literacy — not all grief is the same, and not all joy is the same.

Daring to follow energy of joy as liberatory commitment. Daring to reach beyond what restricts or limits, bonds or enslaves.

Adapting to improve. Adapting to be in flow. Adapting to reconfigure orientation to circumstance so as not to be stuck in the rigid or in the engrained oppressions.

Bounty as in abundance. Welcoming living with abundance rather than shortage or scarcity. Interrupting rivalrous dynamics.

Discovery as in learning, becoming more aware. Discovery as in what grows naturally from curiosity and inquiry. Discovery sounds like, “Aha.” Or like, “Let’s try this.” Discovery has life energy and ease.

Accord as in integration. Accord as in welcoming joy’s path to guide us. Depth welcomes us to be in paths of grief, and, paths of joy to alchemize our inner and outer being.


Fun to play.

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