Grief Model Background

Grief is something all of us experience multiple times in our lives.

In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first described five stages of grief.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Its often believed that these stages of grief will last weeks or months. But, these are responses to feelings that may be brief. The stages are not necessarily a linear progression. We may feel one, then another, and then return.


Once you find you have left your preferred reality, actual reality returns. Anger may start to set in.

“Why me?” “This is so unfair.”

Anger will connect you with reality. You may feel alone. Directing anger to something or someone might bring you back to reality and help you connect to people again.

Anger is an indication of the intensity of your emotions. It is a natural part of the healing process.

Be willing to feel your anger. It will eventually lessen, and your path to healing will progress



When faced with bad news, have you found yourself trying to make a deal with God? This is bargaining. You might challenge yourself with “if only. . .” or “what if . . . ” questions. “If only we had gone to the doctor sooner?” “What if we could have avoided that accident by leaving earlier?”

There is a bit of guilt in these questions. A belief that we could have changed the outcome if we had shown more diligence. By remaining in the past, we are trying to negotiate our way out of the pain.



Depression is an accepted element of the grieving process. Most will relate depression directly to grief. There is a feeling of emptiness with the sense that it will last forever. But, understand that opposed to a clinical depression, the depression you fee while grieving is not a sign of a mental illness.

Depression is an appropriate response to a great loss. It is an understandable reaction to a reality where a person or situation is gone. There is a desire to withdraw from life and those around you. There is a sense of numbness and being overwhelmed. This is all natural and to be expected. To not experience depression after a great loss would be unusual.


Kübler-Ross identified acceptance as the last step of the grieving process.

But, don’t misunderstand the word as it applies here. It is not that you are okay with what has happened. Instead, it’s that you have accepted what has happened, and you will be okay. We accept that we have a new reality and it will be permanent. We may never like this new reality, but we will learn to live with it.

It’s a time of adjustment. Some days are better than others. Over time, finding acceptance may just be a matter of having more good days than bad days.

Listen to your needs. Move, change, grow, evolve. In time, you will reach out to others. Life continues.