The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the five stages of grief, describes a process by which people deal with grief and tragedy, especially when diagnosed with a terminal illness or catastrophic loss, and heartbreak.
Stage I: Denial
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death.
“I feel fine.”
“This can’t be happening, not to me.
Stage II: Anger
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.
“Why me? It’s not fair!”
“How can this happen to me?”
“Who is to blame?”
Stage III: Bargaining
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time…”
“Just let me live to see my children graduate.”
“I’ll do anything for a few more years.”
“I will give my life savings if…”
Stage IV: Depression
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
“I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”
“I miss my loved one, why go on?”
Stage V: Acceptance
This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle.
“It’s going to be okay.”
“I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
On Death and Dying Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1969