BERKELEY, Calif., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Losing your home to foreclosure can feel as traumatic as the death of a loved one. And with so many Americans facing this dreaded possibility -- more than two million U.S. homeowners are currently in default, according to USA TODAY (Nov. 11, 2007) -- it's important to acknowledge the psychological effects as well as the financial and practical ones.
In her seminal book On Death and Dying, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages that dying patients commonly experience when given a terminal prognosis: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
"Not everyone goes through these stages in the same order," says Dr. Jeff Wood, licensed psychologist and author of Getting Help. "People experiencing foreclosure, while it's not a life-threatening scenario, will have similar symptoms," he added.
Denial. "People commonly ignore the first warning signs of impending foreclosure -- the missed payment, the call from the lender, even the formal 'Notice of Default' that is the prelude to a foreclosure sale," says Stephen Elias, President of the Bankruptcy Law Project and author of Nolo's The New Bankruptcy: Will it Work for You? He adds, "Envelopes go unopened, notices go unread, and phone messages are quickly erased. If you're like many homeowners, learning that you might be facing foreclosure triggers fear of ending up in the street."
It's important to remember that foreclosure is an orderly process, Elias says. You'll get notice before the process starts and before the house is eventually sold, if it comes to that. It usually takes the lender quite a while to get the property into the hands of a new owner. Even then, in most states, the new owner has to give you a notice to leave, typically 30 days. In other words, you'll almost certainly have plenty of time to make new shelter arrangements.
"Avoidance," explains Wood, "is the core element of most anxiety
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