The five stages of grief: denial and bargaining

Written by jamila daniel
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The five stages of grief: denial and bargaining
It's helpful to know that denial and bargaining are normal feelings during grieving. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Denial and bargaining are the first and third stages in Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' theory of the Five Stages of Grief. The stages relate to instances of an individual's own impending death, but they have been applied to other losses, including the loss of a loved one or divorce. They are an assessment of familiar emotional stages that people often experience in reaction to these situations and can serve as a tool in coping with grief.

The Five Stages

In a nutshell, the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The Denial Stage

Denial as an emotion serves to help you survive the particular loss you're feeling. A feeling of numbness is experienced; however, denial is somewhat similar to depression since you may feel overwhelmed and that everything is pointless. Denial helps you take in your feelings of grief in increments, letting in just as much as you can handle at the time.

The Bargaining Stage

At this stage, the grief has you so overcome with pain that you'll do anything to avoid the loss. You might find yourself promising God that you'll do or won't do a certain thing if only your life of the life of your loved one is spared. Emotionally, you're longing for life to be the way it was before. The bargaining stage is often accompanied by a feeling of guilt.

An Individual Process

It should be noted that the five stages of grief are recognised as tools to help structure and pinpoint what you may be feeling. Also, while you might think of these stages as lasting weeks or months, sometimes they may last only hours or even minutes and ebb and flow between one and then another. The stages don't always necessarily occur in linear order either; you might experience them backward or in any random order.

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