In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler Ross, a Swiss Psychiatrist, published a book titled, “On Death and Dying.” In this book she detailed what she considered to be the five stages of grief. These stages can occur prior to, during, and after a loved one’s passing. Those consist of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. According to Kübler Ross, denial is the first stage of grief. This is almost a state of shock and wondering how to cope with the current loss.
In this stage, one might ask, “how can I go on?” Anger follows denial. This refers to an individual wondering how this loss could have possibly happened and why. This anger could be towards other individuals, or people often question their faith during this stage. I have often heard, “I don’t understand how she could let this happen” referring to the primary caregiver. Bargaining is a negotiation phase. For example, an individual may attempt to bargain with your faith in exchange for removing the pain of the loss.
In this stage, “I will treat others better if you take this pain away” is a common theme. The final two stages are depression and acceptance. Depression occurs when the denial, anger, and bargaining don’t seem to have worked. It is a culmination of these previous stages, and even acceptance, and can be quiet a turbulent experience.
Finally acceptance of the loss is reached. This is the point when healing has begun to occur and a sense of moving forward and beyond the grief is transpiring. This does not mean the pain is over, just that healing is occurring.
Although these five stages are still commonly utilized in the healthcare field, it has been determined that you can’t categorize into specific stages what occurs during the grief process. Many of us experience all of these stages all at the same time, while others may bargain first and when the bargaining doesn’t work, then the anger occurs. Grief cannot be that easily defined nor can any specific time frame on grief be placed. Grieve at your own pace and in your own way. There is no right or wrong way and there is no deadline.