MEDICAL CORNER …. Five stages of grief!!


~~March 18, 2014~~

A very dear friend of mine lost her young son to stage four cancer recently. Through it all, she has been a stalwart of strength, determination, fortitude and purpose. She is still going through the process of dealing with her loss. Recently she expressed how angry she was about her loss. 

This made me think of the stages of grief. Here is a summary to reinforce that information.


The Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, is the series of emotional stages that one experiences when faced with impending death or death of a loved one. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced this model in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, which was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients. Motivated by the lack of curriculum in medical schools that addressed the subject of death and dying, Kübler-Ross started a project about death when she became an instructor at the University of Chicago’s medical school.

This evolved into a series of seminars, which along with her interviews with patients and her previous research, led to her book. Her work revolutionized how the U.S. medical field took care of the terminally ill. In the decades since her book’s publication, Kübler-Ross‘ concept has become largely accepted by the general public; however, its validity has yet to be consistently supported by the majority of research studies that have examined it.

Kübler-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. Her hypothesis holds that not everyone who experiences a life-threatening or life-altering event feels all five of the responses, as reactions to personal losses of any kind are as unique as the person experiencing them.


As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of their situation, and begin to develop a false, preferable reality.


“Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”

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. Anger can manifest itself in different ways. People can be angry with themselves, or with others, and especially those who are close to them. It is important to remain detached and nonjudgmental when dealing with a person experiencing anger from grief.


“I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Other times, they will use any thing valuable as a bargaining chip against another human agency to extend or prolong the life they live. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die, but 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.


“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”

During the fourth stage, the grieving person begins to understand the certainty of death. 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.

Depression could be referred to as the dress rehearsal for the ‘aftermath‘. It is a kind of acceptance with emotional attachment. It is natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty when going through this stage. Feeling those emotions shows that the person has begun to accept the situation. Often times, this is the ideal path to take, to find closure and make their ways to the fifth step, Acceptance.


“It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. This stage varies according to the person’s situation. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief. This typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable mindset.


Kübler-Ross originally developed this model based on her observations of people suffering from terminal illness. She later expanded her theory to apply to any form of catastrophic personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or income, major rejection, the end of a relationship or divorcedrug addictionincarceration, the onset of a disease or chronic illness, an infertility diagnosis, as well as many tragedies and disasters (and even minor losses).

Supporting her theory, many (both sufferers and therapists) have reported the usefulness of the Kübler-Ross Model in a wide variety of situations where people were experiencing a significant loss. The application of the theory is intended to help the sufferer to fully resolve each stage, then help them transition to the next – at the appropriate time – rather than getting stuck in a particular phase or continually bouncing around from one unresolved phase to another.

Full Credit/Source:


5 Stages of Grief Photo Essay


Uploaded on Nov 26, 2009

Sarah Johnson, Colin Robertson, Keosha Scott

We ALL are connected through LOSS!! 


We ALL are ONE!!