The solution? Write about it! Here we go!
There’s something underlying that list that which has to do with
identity: identity maintenance and change. The logically necessary
phases of reasoning about a desired existing identity under
change-threatening conditions include the following seven:
But then I couldn't help myself, thinking oh a stick isn't enough, let's make this slightly more interesting, let's make the lost thing have at least the possibility you might care about it, what if it were, say, a lollipop. And thus wrote this:
Compare grief versus someone or something taking a stick, or with slightly greater valence, a lollipop, out of your hand. In phase (1) you are unaware of anyone attempting to take it from you. In phase (2), you are aware that something has happened to your stick or lollipop but haven't come to clarity in your mind that it has been taken away yet, even though it may actually be gone forever already, you haven't got even the clear idea of it yet. In phase (3) you have the idea, your lollipop or stick has definitely seemed to have maybe been gone, you have definitely the idea of this, but you may not have come to grips with the reality of it, it's just a conceptual flash, the possibility, without the inner assertion in your mind that this is how it actually is, that it has actually been taken and it's gone now. Until you believe that assertion, you could be well described as in denial, again (3). Next, by way of phase (4), if you cared, you might try (negotiating with others) to negotiate with the taker to get it back, or might imagine (negotiating with self) what would have happened if you had held on more tightly.
By way of (5), anger: Recall Veatch characterizes Anger as not existing except as a goal-directed action strategy in a hierarchy of backoff strategies by a person committed to that goal. In that context, you might back off from the strategy of mere maintenance (continuing to simply hold the thing as before) to the backoff strategies (perhaps one after the other) of holding it more tightly, or grabbing it, or reaching for it, or chasing it in order to capture it again, or yelling at the thief to return it or to get others to come in and help, or decompensating like a tantruming 2 year old in hopes that your universal backoff strategy to get everything your 2 year old self might want (which is everyone's always-successful strategy at the root of the tree of methods to get what one wants).
Next, by way of (6), you might contemplate how nice it was to have had it and experience some loss or having+not-having, cognitive dissonance, that it has been taken from you. By way of (7) you might grab a different stick or lollipop because you feel you need to be holding something (7A) or alternatively let it go not just the stick or lollipop but the holding of any stick or lollipop, which you now can be perfectly contented without (7B).
The same process (1-7), I'm saying, applies to the bereaved as to the victim of the theft of a lollipop, not because the losses are comparable, obviously, but because everything has a before and an after (thus (1) and (7)) and every experienced loss of value goes through a coming-to-awareness (2), an awareness potentially before acceptance (3), comprising squirming under mental reconsideration of what has happened (4) and trying if ineffectually to make it not be or not happen for as long as one is committed to the alternative reality which is painfully not so (5). Every desireable thing lost offers a phase after we stop pretending or trying for it to not be so, a phase phase of appreciation of the lost reality juxtaposed in the mind with the loss of that reality, a phase of sadness (6). And whether we move on to a substitute satisfaction (7A) or stop needing something in that box to have satisfaction (7B), acceptance requires moving on.
I'm not telling the bereaved not to have their feelings. I'm just a seeker of understanding trying to figure it out; so please forgive me my insensitivity and impertinence. But today is a great day in Science, because Many are here being reduced to Few. Specifically, I describe what the so-called Six Phases of Grief reveal -- without insight -- as a reasonless, apparently random, yet consistently observed, pattern of response to the experience of emotionally significant loss, by using a reasoned and logical breakdown of what must or might occur in the mental/emotional transition from "have" to "had", under minimal assumptions.
The assumptions are these: We assume organisms don't just undergo changes but also somehow represent changes (early in the tree of life, mere neurons satisfy this). We assume further that they represent counterfactuals like what was but isn't, or what isn't but might be (close to us in the tree of life, this needs a rich cognitive capacity like that required for humor or planning or lying etc., but this is obviously true for humans irrespective of grief). We assume they come into awareness of new circumstances before recognizing all the ramifications (any finite reasoning system has this property). We assume that they have attachment which might or might not be based on Bliss Theory presumptions; that they are importantly social creatures who can get needs met through negotiations with others, that they are thinking creatures who can figure stuff out before their actions might actually carry things out (true of humans certainly, imaginably of dogs). We assume they have anger which might or might not be a thing fully characterized by Veatch's Theory of Anger (you can deny that while accepting this). And we assume that they are capable of substitution and deletion in their desire structure, substituting one desireable for another in some way, or also potentially capable of not having to desire, or not desiring, to necessarily have that kind of a thing at all (also, finally, independently motivated, since humans do change and grow emotionally). So we assume Nothing that we don't have to already recognize as basic to humans, so our theory adds Ockham's list of presumptions, Nothing, yet captures the Six Phases of Grief, you tell me if it doesn't truly capture the essence for each! (Please!)
This analysis of Grief being generally within my primary project of Bliss Theory, still I consider this could be maintained without Bliss Theory's presuppositions, namely that emotions are mostly about inhibition and identity: emotional regulation is emotional inhibition subject to the inhibiting factor which is identity attribution. You could believe that or not, while accepting this logical decomposition of grief stages.
Simply, this analysis shows how any thinking/feeling identity-bound organism must naturally go through the experience of the transition from "have" to "had". If identity is implicated (that is, not as a dog losing a stick, but as a person losing what they identify themselves as having and valuing), then:
The Bliss Theory explanation underneath these phases is this. The identity one might attribute to oneself, namely that I am a person who had this valuable thing and now don't, has an associated emotional evaluation of sadness, pain, loss. If one cognitively asserts that identity attribution to oneself, then one's emotional system (evolved to be logically bound to the consequences of one's identity beliefs) downregulates to that very experience. Thus the very thought hurts.
Skipping ahead, Liz had asked, well what’s your solution then? I answer: acknowledging what you are really going through (loss of self: a conceptual/emotional version of death itself), having the actual reasoning path laid out clearly so one can more easily understand and traverse it, and having a happy ending on offer to draw one forward, the bliss of a free heart, might give confused people some clarity, and hurting people some healing. Good enough?
I think so.
But it's new, the product of a single day, so objections counterexamples and reassessments are Most Welcome!