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The Kübler-Ross model describes, in five discrete stages, the process by which people deal with grief and tragedy. Terminally ill patients are said to experience these stages. The model was introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book ''On Death and Dying''. The stages have become well known, and are called the Five Stages of Grief.

Enumeration of stages[edit | edit source]

The stages are:

  1. Denial and isolation: "This is not happening to me."
  2. Anger: "How dare you do this to me?!" (either referring to a god, the late person, or themselves)
  3. Bargaining: "Just let me live to see my son graduate."
  4. Depression: "I can't bear to face going through this, putting my family through this."
  5. Acceptance: "I'm ready, I don't want to struggle anymore."

Kübler-Ross originally applied these stages to any form of catastrophic personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, or even divorce. She also claimed these steps do not necessarily come in order, nor are they all experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two.

Others have noticed that any significant personal change can follow these stages. For example, experienced criminal defense attorneys are aware that defendants who are facing stiff sentences, yet have no defenses or mitigating factors to lessen their sentences, often experience the stages. Accordingly, they must get to the acceptance stage before they are prepared to plead guilty.

Grief[edit | edit source]

In popular culture these stages are almost exclusively applied only to news of one's own impending death. The notion that to resolve grief they must all be followed, in order, is also common.

Although, in 1974, "The Handbook of Psychiatry" defined grief as "...the normal response to the loss of a loved one by death," and other kinds of losses were labeled "Pathological Depressive Reactions," this has become the predominant way for counselors and professionals to approach grief, loss, tragedy and traumatic experiences.[1]

Criticisms[edit | edit source]

While the model is now quite celebrated, it cannot be taken as normative.

Critics call the Kübler-Ross model too vague, simplistic, and non-prescriptive.

A counterpoint to this model can be found at [2]

One approach to clarifying the stages is to concentrate on what motivates anyone in any situation. A suggestion is that we are always motivated by our innate emotions or feelings. The following link is not so much a counterpoint but a restructuring of the steps taking emotion fully into account. See:

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Kubler-Ross, E (1973)On Death and Dying. Routledge.ISBN 0415040159 Kubler-Ross, E (2005) On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Simon & Schuster Ltd ISBN 0743263448

External links[edit | edit source]

A reinterpretation of the Five Stages of Grief

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