The Work of Kübler-Ross’ Grieving Process and the Stages of Grief

Comparing and contrasting grieving models

Waldrop (2007) defines grief as a complex response to loss or death. The grieving process is characterized by psychological, emotional, and social distress. Death is an unavoidable phase of life and everyone has to experience grief at some point. Brosche (2007) indicates that grieving among health care providers is often ignored by the hospital management. In this view, some caretakers prefer suppressing their grief instead of dealing with it. Suppressing such feelings can lead to stress, lack of concentration, and fatigue. Consequently, the situation is likely to affect their efficiency at work. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a psychiatrist that worked with dying children and she studied the grieving patterns of their families after death (Buglass, 2010). The psychiatrist developed the five-stage model of grieving to provide an understanding of the stages that people go through after the death of a loved one.

Denial is described in the model as the first stage of grieving (Buglass, 2010). Additionally, the denial phase is temporary and it occurs because of shock following loss or death. The second stage is anger and it is characterized by the realization that a loved one is actually dead. During this phase, the bereaved person displays rage, which is directed to other people or objects. Bargaining is described as the third stage and the bereaved person usually expresses regret. Specifically, the grieving individual wonders whether the situation would have been different if the diagnosis was made earlier or the loved one was given better care. The fourth and fifth stages include depression and acceptance respectively. The thought of living a life without a loved one predisposes the bereaved individual to depression. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross model states that the acceptance stage does not occur immediately. Critics of this model argue that it is flawed, as the grieving process does not have to follow the same order described by Kübler-Ross. Other authors have discovered that some phases in the the model seem to overlap in real life (Buglass, 2010).

The story of Job is well explained in the Christian religion and it provides an example of how the followers should deal with grief. Job was a man of God who lost his family and property in the same day following a natural disaster (Sittser, 2004). His faith in God enabled him to go through the grieving process. Contrary to the Kübler-Ross model, not all the stages are evident in Job’s story. He never got angry with God and continued to praise and worship Him through the tribulation. Although his wife insisted that God had forgotten them, Job continued to proclaim God’s blessings. Job believed that God subjected him to grief to prepare him for a better life in the future. The story of Miriam provides an example of how the Jews deal with grief (Becher, 2008). Miriam was an Israelite who died in the desert after God saved the community from the hands of the Egyptians. The community was led from Egypt by Moses and Aaron who were brothers and Miriam was their sister. After she died, the Israelites turned their anger toward Moses and Aaron and blamed God for making them leave Egypt. In the bargaining stage, they regretted why they agreed to leave Egypt and believed that God had forgotten about them. In comparison to Kübler-Ross model, the Israelites only displayed the anger, bargaining, and acceptance phases of the grieving process.

Comparing the story of Job with other grieving models

The Kübler-Ross model of grief appears to be different from the grieving stages described in the Book of Job. Job accepted the death of his children and loss of property as soon as the natural disaster occurred. He turned into praise and worship and continued thanking God for all the times that he had shared with his children. In this view, the denial and anger stage described by Kübler-Ross did not occur in Job’s case. The bible indicates that Job later became depressed and wondered if God was still with him (Sittser, 2004). However, he continued praying and praising God through the despair. The depression stage was short lived as God reminded him that He had better plans for his future. This was true as he was later rewarded with a new family. Death in Judaism is viewed as God’s plan and people are awarded for living a worthy life on earth (Coryell, 2007). The religion identifies three stages that the bereaved have to go through to mourn and deal with the grief. These stages include the Shiva, the Shloshlm, and the One-year period. The Shiva is a seven-day phase that occurs after burial and the bereaved family is supposed to mourn indoors. The Shloshlm occurs 30 days after burial and the bereaved are encouraged to go on with their lives without their loved one. The one-year period involves remembering the good life that the dead family members lived on earth. Mourners are encouraged to participate in charity activities during the one-year period.

Personal view of grief

As a health professional, I support the Kübler-Ross model of grief. I believe that bereaved individuals should go through all the stages when dealing with death. In addition, understanding the model ensures that caregivers deal with grief in a healthy manner after the death of a patient. However, I do not think that the first four stages should follow any specific order, as different individuals are likely to express their grief in different ways. In addition to the five stages of grieving, an individual should also ensure that they go through counseling to understand and ease the pain associated with the death of a loved one. In conclusion, the research has changed my view of grief because I now understand the important role that religion plays in dealing with the death of a loved one.


Becher, M. (2008). Gateway to Judaism: The what, how, and why of Jewish life. Brooklyn, NY: Shaar Press.

Brosche, T. A. (2007). A grief team within a healthcare system. Dimensions in Critical Care Nursing, 26(1), 21-28.

Buglass, E. (2010). Grief and bereavement theories. Nursing Standard, 24(41), 44-47.

Coryell, D. M. (2007). Good grief: Healing through the shadow of loss. Rochester: Healing Arts Press.

Sittser, G. L. (2004). A grace disguised: How the soul grows through loss. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Waldrop, D. P. (2007). Caregiver grief in terminal illness and bereavement: A mixed-methods study. Health & Social Work, 32(3), 197-206.

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PsychologyWriting. "The Work of Kübler-Ross’ Grieving Process and the Stages of Grief." January 25, 2023.