Elisabeth Kubler was born in July 1926 in Zurich, Switzerland, the oldest of the Kubler triplets. She weighed 2 pounds. Her father was very strict, and before his daughters were even teenagers, he had their future mapped out for him. Elisabeth, (or, as she was known, Betli), was going to be the secretary for his business. Betli, however, had an entirely different future mapped out for herself. Instead of becoming her father's secretary, she found herself standing up to him, and, with dreams of becoming a doctor, she first labored as a maid, then, found herself jobs in various lab's in Zurich. Along with working for these labs, she also did refugee work in war torn Europe after WW II, working in both Switzerland, and in Poland. Eventually, she found her way into medical school, and graduated. While there, she met a young American man, and they married. After medical school, she wanted to go work in India. He wanted to return to the United States. Her Indian job fell through, so, she emigrated with her husband. They started out in New York, where he was from, where she wanted to initially specialize in Pediatrics. She got a fellowship, but during this time, the higher powers that be did not want any pregnant women, and, she was pregnant. So she took the last availiable spot, and ended up doing a psychiatric rotation. (How on earth can psych be a better place for a pregnant woman, I ask you!). Sadly, she had a miscarriage. She actually had 4 miscarriages, but two healthy children, a boy and a girl. She continued her psychiatry specialty, and, eventually found her way to Colorado, then, to Chicago. She began to be more and more drawn to the patients who were terminally ill, and before long, she was doing something no practitioner had ever even thought of doing. TALKING about death. She held seminars of medical students, doctors, nurses, clergymen, social workers, and more, where she would bring in a terminally ill patient, and have the patient educate them on how it felt to know you were facing death. Her lectures quickly became popular, though some of the older MD's were not thrilled with this, and would even refuse to admit their terminally ill/dying patient's were actually, ah, DYING. (hello?!!! is this thing on?!!!).
She began writing books of her experiences, and her first book, "On Death and Dying" proposed the now, widely accepted 5 stages of grief. (Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). She then became a huge proponent of the hospice movement. She and her husband bought property in California, and opened the Shanti Nilaya (home of Peace). It was a healing center for the dying, and their families. She also co-founded the American Holistic Medical Association. She also began to become involved in assisting the patient's with AIDS. She moved her healing center to Virginia, with the intention of adopting AIDS suffering babies and letting them live their lives out in peace. Sadly, acceptance of AIDS during this era was minimal, and, her farm was burnt to the ground maliciously before she could enact her plan.
She died in 2004 in Scottsdale, Arizona, after suffering a series of strokes, but not before writing her last book, her own biography ( "The Wheel of Life", which I am now reading and highly recommend). Her works are highly regarded in any hospice organization, and we practice her tenants in almost all that we do. The depth of study, and compassion that she had for the death and dying are astounding, and she has changed the face of medicine for the better. She wrote 23 books on the subject matter, (varying topics), one being a photographic journal. ("Real Taste of Life").