The Kubler-Ross model is based on five stages of grief. These are five emotional stages that someone can experience when faced with death or some other loss. The five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Kubler-Ross noted that these stages are not meant to be a complete list of all possible emotions that could be felt, and they can occur in any order. Reactions to loss and grief are as different as each person experiencing them. We spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage more or less intensely.
We often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of death. Many of us do not achieve this final stage of grief. “Many people do not experience the stages in the order listed below, which is okay. The key to understanding the stages is not to feel like you must go through every one of them, in precise order. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at them as guides in the grieving process — it helps you understand and put into context where you are. ” Denial —One of the first reactions to follow a loss or news of an impending loss is Denial.
What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of their situation. It is a defence mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain. Anger — As the effects of denial begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Anger can manifest itself in different ways.
People can be angry with themselves, or with others, and especially those who are close to them. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us even more angry. It is important to remain detached and nonjudgmental when dealing with a person experiencing anger from grief. Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control. Secretly, we may make a deal with God or a higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defence to protect us from the painful reality. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die, but I am not ready, if I could just do something to buy more time…” People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example “Can we still be friends? ” when facing a break-up.
Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it is a matter of life or death. Depression —The grieving person begins to understand the lack of control over the situation. Much like the existential concept of The Void, the idea of living becomes pointless. Things begin to lose meaning to the griever. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and sullen. This process allows the grieving person to disconnect from things of love and affection, possibly in an attempt to avoid further trauma.
It is natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty when going through this stage. Feeling these emotions shows that the person has begun to accept the situation. Acceptance — In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with what has happened or what will happen. This typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable mindset but reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial.
This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression. Coping with loss is a ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.