The Kubler Ross model of the 5 stages of grief

The Kubler Ross model of the 5 stages of grief
Mourning is one of the most individual and unique experiences for each person. Losing a loved one is one of the hardest feelings anyone can go through, but it does happen very often. Although completely unique, the process is somewhat of a circle of emotions that each person gets to feel, not in a particular order of course.
Although completely unique, it comes in every form and for whatever reason, and provokes 5 different feelings in each person, studied and explained by Elisabeth Kübler Ross, a psychiatrist. In her book “On Death and Dying”, 1969, she worked on the 5 most common emotional responses to loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. First, she put forward these emotions as the five stages of death, as she was working with terminally ill patients and these were their emotions when dealing with their own mortality.
Further on, she managed to extend her book and include other kinds of loss, but these 5 emotions stayed as the core 5 stages of grief. She argues that there is no definition of loss and grief. It can be caused by anything a person deals with in their life, and there is no written rule or chronological order in which the emotions come to a person.
She goes on to explain that not everyone grieves the same way. Some people do not even feel the 5 emotions. They go on a completely different path of mourning, and that is also perfectly understandable. Some people shift between 2 emotions for a long time, going back and forth. Some spend weeks in the grieving process, and some may take years until they gather themselves from the traumatic experience.
With that said, the 5 stages of grief explained below do not represent a set of rules for anyone, instead, they should serve only as a guide to what is possible to come when mourning.


Commonly the first reaction that appears after a traumatic experience is simply denying that it happened. As an initial reaction, for some people, it is common to not accept the loss of a loved one, a breakup or maybe getting fired from their job. It is the hope that still lingers after coming back from a Fenix funeral, that makes you think that there has been a mistake, and your loved one will come back. You turn for every phone call or text in hopes that there has been a mistake. After this, you might go completely numb, and that is your body giving you some time to process and realize the crude reality that has happened.


Do not let the anger fool you into thinking that you are tough enough to survive a traumatic loss. Anger is really just another form of pain, and it originates from it directly. With time, you can become angry at strangers, close ones, inanimate objects, or yourself. It often comes with the very known question “Why is this happening to me”? It is also common to feel anger towards the situation or the person you have lost. With time, you might understand that it is not for you to blame anyone, and you simply start to reconnect with your reality after some time of denying it.


This is the stage where you do a lot of internal negotiation. Questions like “what if”, and “if only I did that” appear and stay for a while. You want to feel in control of the situation as if there is a chance for you to prevent the loss. Guilt may accompany this emotion in a way of you wanting to regain control over the traumatic experience.


During this stage, you start to face your new reality and slowly understand the inevitable loss you experienced. While mourning, depression is not a mental condition, but rather a process that is in fact a rational response to grief. Do not feel like a failure if it takes you a while to come out of this stage. Not everyone is responsive to grief in the same way, and not everyone mourns in the same way. Depression is usually temporary, and even if it sounds scary, it is an important stage you need to go through in order to heal.


Gaining acceptance does not correlate with you feeling OK, or happy again. It is learning how to accept what has happened, learning how to move on with the pain you have experienced. It is a very important stage in everyone’s grieving period, as we need to learn how to readjust our lives and simply move on. This does not mean that you will not feel sadness or anger again, but that you will know how to deal with it and manage it in the everyday life. Your perspective on life, in the long run, will be different, but that is actually the point of accepting the loss.

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