Elisabeth Kubler Ross biography and quotes

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Elisabeth Kubler Ross (Kübler Ross) M.D. (1926-2004) was a Swiss-American doctor and psychiatrist who became famous for her progressive ideas and development with respect to care and support for the terminally ill. Elisabeth Kubler Ross also developed a theory on the 5 stages of grief and loss, for which she is best known. This article contains her biography, quotes and publications.

Biography Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Elisabeth Kubler Ross obtained her Medical Degree (MD) from the University of Zurich in 1957.

In 1958 she emigrated to the United States with her husband Emanuel (Manny) Ross and she took up a number of follow-up studies in the field of psychiatry.

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Elisabeth Kubler Ross focused on and specialized in working with terminally ill patients and care and support for the terminally ill. She inspired student by giving fascinating and confronting lectures about this specialism.

In 1962 Elisabeth Kubler Ross accepted a position at the University of Colorado, in the United States. She completed her follow-up studies in the field of psychiatry and moved to Chicago in 1965.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross changed jobs in 1965 and became an Assistant Professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. She developed a number of seminars based on interviews with terminally ill patients. In addition to experiencing the pros and cons of her profession, Elisabeth Kubler Ross was, however, also critical of traditional psychiatry. She herself took a number of special psychoanalytical training courses to familiarize herself with this specialism.

After follow-up empirical research, she published the successful book On Death and Dying in 1969 in which the introduced the 5 stages of grief model.

All this accelerated her fame within the (medical) world of coping with bereavement and care and support for the terminally ill. She wrote over many books and scientific publications. Elisabeth Kubler Ross was particularly appreciated for her work and was awarded 21 honorary doctorates.

In 1977 Elisabeth Kubler Ross bought a large piece of land with her husband in San Diego in the United States and founded Shanti Nilaya (Home of Peace) a ‘healing center‘ for the dying and their families. She continued her research into spirituality and mediumship.

During the last years of her life she used her best endeavours to fight against AIDS by doing research and giving workshops about this subject. At the age of 78, after having been in a coma for a week, Elisabeth Kubler Ross died partly due to a number of different infections she had contracted.

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Famous quotes by Elisabeth Kubler Ross

  1. “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”
  2. “People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
  3. “The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”
  4. “The five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear time line in grief.”
  5. “Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.”
  6. “I think modern medicine has become like a prophet offering a life free of pain. It is nonsense. The only thing I know that truly heals people is unconditional love.”
  7. “The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours.”
  8. “As far as service goes, it can take the form of a million things.”
  9. “To do service, you don’t have to be a doctor working in the slums for free, or become a social worker. Your position in life and what you do doesn’t matter as much as how you do what you do.”
  10. “It is difficult to accept death in this society because it is unfamiliar. In spite of the fact that it happens all the time, we never see it.”

Books and Publications

  • 2014. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Scribner; Reprint edition (August 12, 2014).
  • 2014, 1969. On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families. Scribner; Reprint edition (August 12, 2014).
  • 2008, 1991. On Life after Death. Celestial Arts.
  • 2001. Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living. Scribner.
  • 1999. Tunnel and the Light: Essential Insights on Living and Dying. Da Capo Press; 2nd edition (February 26, 1999).
  • 1997. The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying. Scribner.
  • 1997. Working It Through: An Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Workshop on Life, Death, and Transition. Simon and Schuster.
  • 1997, 1983. On Children and Death: How Children and Their Parents Can and Do Cope With Death. Scribner.
  • 1997, 1975. Death: The Final Stage of Growth. Scribner.
  • 1997, 1974. Questions and Answers on Death and Dying. Scribner.
  • 1995. Death Is of Vital Importance: On Life, Death, and Life After Death. Station Hill Press.
  • 1995. Remember the Secret. Celestial Arts.
  • 1992. On death and dying in the emergency department, Journal of Emergency Medicine – J EMERG MED , vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 225-229.
  • 1988. Dreamtime and Inner Space: The World of the Shaman. Shambhala; 1 edition (April 12, 1988).
  • 1987. AIDS: The Ultimate Challenge. New York: Macmillan.
  • 1981. Living with Death and Dying. Macmillan.
  • 1980. To Live Until We Say Goodbye. Fireside.

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Original publication date: 12/26/2012 | Last update: 06/24/2023

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Vincent van Vliet
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Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.


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