Guide Stay well resource pack

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12. The change curve

Many people will be familiar with the change curve. It was originally devised by the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to help describe different stages of grief. It is often used to help understand how people feel during organisational changes, and any major upheaval in life.

You can find different versions, but the general pattern is:

  • Shock
  • Denial           
  • Anger or frustration
  • Blame or bargaining
  • Depression or despair
  • Acceptance
  • Problem solving and moving forward

You might recognise some of your own emotions here, in how you have been feeling since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Using the change curve to help yourself and others

Use the change curve to help understand your own feelings and those of people around you.

Some people may start to feel a sense of ‘acceptance’ – although a lot of things are very difficult at the moment, you are finding ways to keep going and make it work.

Other people may be experiencing any of the difficult feelings here, despair, anger or blame.

If you are feeling strong and determined – recognise that other may not feel the same way and use this knowledge to be empathetic and supportive.

If you keep feeling overwhelmed with despair, know that there is hope.

Also remember it is not a straightforward journey from beginning to end. You might feel you are moving forward, and then something new happens and throws you back into shock, anger or despair. If this happens, remember that you have the capacity to move forward again – as the saying goes, “This too shall pass”.

The change we are going through is probably the most difficult ever experienced for many people. There should be no judgement of anyone, or any expectation that people are supposed to arrive at a particular end point by a particular time.

If you need support, use the links provided throughout this pack.