If you’ve ever lost someone, or watched a medical drama in the last 15 years, you’ve probably heard of The Five Stages of Grief. They’re sort of the world’s worst consolation prize for loss. But last year, we began wondering… Where did these stages come from in the first place?
Turns out, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. But the story is much, much more complicated than that. Those stages of grieving? They actually started as stages of dying. After learning that, producer Rachael Cusick tumbled into a year-long journey through the life and work of the incredibly complicated and misunderstood woman who single-handedly changed the way all of us face dying, and the way we deal with being left behind.
Special Note: Our friends over at Death Sex and Money have put together a very special companion to this story, featuring Rachael talking about this story with her grandmother. Check it out here.
This episode was reported and produced by Rachael Cusick, with production help from Carin Leong.
This story wouldn’t have been possible without the folks you heard from in the episode, and the many, many people who touched this story, including: Anne Adams, Andrew Aronson, Audrey Gordon, Barbara Hogenson, Basit Qari, Bill Weese, Bob McGan, Carey Gauzens, Clifford Edwards, Cristina McGinniss, Dorothy Holinger, Frank Ostaseski, Ira Byock, Jamie Munson, Jessica Weisberg, Jillian Tullis, Joanna Treichler, Jonathan Green, Ken Bridbord, Ladybird Morgan, Laurel Braitman, Lawrence Lincoln, Leah Siegel, Liese Groot, Linda Mount, Lyn Frumpkin, Mark Kuczewski, Martha Twaddle, Rosalie Roder, Sala Hilaire, Stefan Haupt, Stephanie Riley, Stephen Connor, and Tracie Hunte.
Special thanks to all the folks who shared music for this episode, including:
Lisa Stoll, who shared her Alpine horn music with us for this episode. You can hear more of her music here.
Cliff Edwards, who shared original music from Deanna Edwards.
The Martin Hayes Quartet, who shared the last bit of music you hear in the piece that somehow puts a world of emotion into one beautiful tune.
And an extra special thank you to the folks over at Stanford University - Ben Stone, David Magnus, Karl Lorenz, Maren Monsen - the caretakers of Elisabeth’s archival collection who made it possible to rummage through their library from halfway across the country. You can read more about the collection here.
Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.