Home > Emotional Issues > The Stages of Grief

The Stages of Grief

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 14 Oct 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Grief kubler-ross Model kubler-ross

It is now commonly accepted that grief involves a five stage cycle of denial anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Often this five stage cycle is referred to as the Kubler-Ross cycle or the Kubler-Ross model, after Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the doctor who investigated this cycle in people grieving over the loss of a loved one. This cycle can be experienced either by those who have suffered a loss, or those who have been informed that they themselves are terminal and may die soon.

Denial

Denial, the first stage of grief, occurs when an individual refuses to accept that their loss, or the news of their impending loss, is true. At this time they often simply ignore all evidence to the contrary and continue on as if a loved one will be coming home soon or they will not be facing their own death. Denying the truth may be a conscious or unconscious choice, and may last for varying degrees of time. However, particularly when presented with the body and burial or cremation, individuals often have no choice but to pass into the next stage: anger.

Anger

It is very easy for individuals who have suffered a loss or been informed of their own terminal illness to become overwhelmingly angry. They may be angry at their doctors, angry at the wider medical community, angry at themselves, angry at other relatives or friends, angry at the deceased or even angry with their religious deity for allowing this situation to occur. This anger is rarely rational, but it can be overwhelming and consuming. Often, however, this anger burns itself out eventually and this emotion may be replaced with the next stage: bargaining

.

Bargaining

Particularly for individuals who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness, a period of bargaining will likely occur in which the individual attempts to wheedle a deal with their religious deity. They may attempt such bargains as “If you take away the pain, then I will…” or “If you let me live, then I will…” Individuals watching a loved one suffer may also attempt such bargains, such as “If you just let my sister live, I will…” Sometimes this bargaining may also occur irrationally after a death, in which an individual begs for their loved one to be returned to life in exchange for whatever price such a bargain would demand. When this bargaining does not work, the result is often the next stage of grief: depression.

Depression

When an individual is facing death, the depression that is experienced often stems from the first steps in accepting their own mortality. At this time the individual may feel sad, anxious, scared and even a certain amount of regret or guilt. In individuals who have lost a loved one, depression may include the same emotions as they will just be beginning to realise that their situation is irrevocable and they really must continue to live without the presence of the deceased in their lives. These first hints at acceptance then lead into the last stage of grief: acceptance.

Acceptance

Individuals approaching their own deaths may come to accept this fact long before their relatives and friends do so. This acceptance may come many months or even years before their death will occur, and it will often prompt the individual to examine their current way of life and decide what is truly important to them. These decisions sometimes influence the individual to change their way of living, such as moving to an area that they have always wanted to live, take a trip that they have always wanted to take, change careers to a sector in which they have always been interested, or stop working all together. Individuals who have recently lost a loved one will likely come to the acceptance stage after they have become comfortable with the fact that the deceased will not be returning to them. This may also spark life changes, though major decisions such as to move houses, change careers or have a baby should be put off for at least a year until the individual is certain that this is rationally the best decision.

Grief can be overwhelming, and in general the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief is experienced by most of the bereaved and those who have been advised of their own impending death. However, the way each stage is experienced is often unique to the individual. If at any time grief becomes overwhelming, the individual suffering should consult a medical or mental health professional for further support, information and advice.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Both my parents died within 5 weeks of each other in 2002. Now my grief is for myself, for the love I never had from them. It is just as hard as the grief for them, perhaps harder because what I am grieving seems so intangible .
John 7 - 14-Oct-15 @ 7:12 PM
Mammyj- Your Question:
I lost my mam 5 months ago to ovarian cancer, I watched cancer eat her away, it has robbed me of my best friend. I'm so angry, I cry everyday, physically hurt. I'm starting councelling tomorrow and am worried about breaking down before I even get in the room!

Our Response:
Counselling should help you handle your grief...don't be worried about a breaking down, they will have experienced all kinds of behaviour. Good Luck.
FacingBereavement - 2-Sep-15 @ 10:13 AM
I lost my mam 5 months ago to ovarian cancer, I watched cancer eat her away, it has robbed me of my best friend. I'm so angry, I cry everyday,physically hurt. I'm starting councelling tomorrow and am worried about breaking down before I even get in the room!
Mammyj - 1-Sep-15 @ 5:19 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • C77
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My father walked out on my mother leaving behind me (1) and my brother (3) he was having an affair and went on to purchase a house…
    20 February 2017
  • Jade
    Re: Assistance With Funeral Costs
    Hi I'm an 18 year old full time university student my mum died suddenly on the 7th febuary, the government are refusing to help…
    20 February 2017
  • Diane thompson
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    Can a head be stored at a relations place until the time of the unveiling or does it have to be taken straight to the…
    18 February 2017
  • Mary
    Re: Bereavement Payment
    Hi i completed the BB1 form, and I have been told today by letter that I am entitled to the widowed parents allowance but the one off…
    17 February 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    Papaeh - Your Question:To all the people that are dealing with a greiving spouse or partner, let me say this hang in…
    17 February 2017
  • MrsJim
    Re: Purchasing a Burial Plot
    Hello, I have a plot that I'm looking to sell as we are moving out of the area and I won't be able to use the plot. Also, because we'll…
    16 February 2017
  • Papaeh
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    To all the people that are dealing with a greiving spouse or partner, let me say this hang in there as much as possible,…
    16 February 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    Doz - Your Question:I have chosen my late husbands headstone. I am wanting it to be erected on a saturday, as most of my…
    16 February 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    Darla - Your Question:My father passed away two years ago and my stepmother has not put a headstone on his grave. The…
    16 February 2017
  • Orion
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    My girlfriends father passed away almost four years ago and we've been together for a year. Recently she has made a…
    15 February 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the FacingBereavement website. Please read our Disclaimer.