Breaking the silence about loss, death and dying

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004) was a psychiatrist notable for her pioneering work in breaking the silence around death and dying. Her work was groundbreaking in changing how doctors treat dying patients. The publication of her first book On Death and Dying in 1969 is said to have rocked the medical profession while at the same time it created public outcry for compassionate care of the dying.

Elisabeth is possibly best known for her pioneering work, setting out the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grief.

To get a flavour of Elisabeth's teaching and the woman she was, listen to this short video Elisabeth Kubler Ross talks about the 4 quadrants which constitute a map of the human person which she often referred to.

To listen to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross discuss end of life issues, forgiveness and the concept of unconditional love this 54 minute film, filmed in 1983, gives a good overview of her thoughts and ideas. Click on the title to watch the film, TO LIVE UNTIL YOU DIE, about  Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross which includes live footage of Elisabeth.

In her final interview with Oprah, filmed in 1997, Elisabeth talks about ill-health having suffered a stroke in 1995 and her thoughts about her own death. Elisabeth was no stranger to controversy and her work on Near Death Experience was one such example. Click the highlighted text to hear what she has to say in her own words about the topic.

Meeting Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for the first time at the Servite Priory in Benburb, Northern Ireland, in August 1989 was a pivotal experience for me both personally and professionally. Her authenticity was what struck me the most. Elisabeth was an enchanting story-teller. I sat in the audience transfixed knowing that part of my destiny would be to learn all that I could from her wisdom and experience.

 Mary Stefanazzi photographed with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross at her farm in Head Waters, Virginia, USA in 1991.

Having completed the training with the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation I was fortunate to have an opportunity to be part of the therapeutic staff at the first Life, Death and Transition Workshop held at Elisabeth's farm in Head Waters, Virginia, USA in October 1991. 

The farm at Head Waters where Elisabeth lived consisted of around 300 acres. Elisabeth had a purpose built residential workshop facility on the farm for her healing work. She called her organization Shanti Nilaya which is a Sanskrit word meaning final home of peace.

 Photograph of workshop space at Elisabeth's farm in Head Waters, Virginia, USA.

The workshop building was a beautiful timber structure set among magnificent trees in a private woodland area of the farm. Elizabeth's Swiss ancestry is symbolised by the Swiss flag you can see in the photo. The photos on this page are all from that memorable time in Head Waters, in October 1991.

I witnessed some of the many lives Elisabeth touched - including my own - and will be ever grateful to her. On The Leap of Faith programme, broadcast on April 6th 2018, Dr Mary Stefanazzi talks with Michael Comyn about Elisabeth's work and her approach to the end of life. Click on the programme title here to listen back. THE LEAP OF FAITH 6.4.2018.

Mary trained with the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation after first meeting the doctor in 1989. May she Rest in Peace.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


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