The Grief Process and The Five Stages of Dying Academic Paper


Essay Prompt: The Grief Process and the Five Stages of Dying Review the concepts related to dying and bereavement across the life span, the four-component model, and Kubler-Ross’s five stages of dying. Identify the key differences in dying and the bereavement process across the lifespan. Apply the four-component model to the grieving process at one […]

The Grief Process According to the Four-component model and  Kübler-Ross

In most instances, many people are overwhelmed with the pain of loss. They often experience all types of unexpected and difficult emotions, from anger or shock to profound sadness, guilt, and disbelief. The grief process is a unique and individual experience. How one mourns relies on many dynamics, including conviction, life experience, coping style, and character. The grieving process inevitably takes time but happens gradually; it cannot be hurried or forced (Heilman, 2018). The four-component model and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of dying demonstrated that when people are bereaved, allowing oneself to feel the grief is the best thing to do because resisting it will prolong the natural healing process.

Variances in Dying and the Bereavement Processes

The dying course starts when one comes close to passing away. A person begins on a mental path of discovery as this process commences; they comprehend that, indeed, death will occur. The dying process is, therefore, a significant period for the individual and their loved ones. It is a moment of preparation for the one passing away and their family, who must be prepared for the foreseeable loss. Conversely, bereavement is the time of mourning or grief after death occurs. They may experience a lack of productivity at work, crying spells, changes in appetite, or trouble sleeping (Cleiren, 2019). How long bereavement lasts relies on various factors, such as if the person’s death was expected or how close one was to the deceased.

Four-component Model of the Bereavement Process

Bonanno’s four-component model offers an abstractly sound basis for understanding individual differences in anguished. The model identifies four main components that are essential in understanding the bereavement process. The first one is the context in which the loss transpired. For example, compared to anticipated losses, unexpected or sudden deaths are perceived to be more anxiety-provoking. Thus, the former leads to a more severe grief reaction. The second context is the subjective meaning linked to the loss. A human being, by nature, is essentially a meaning-making being. As the process of bereavement unfolds, grieving people will start to contemplate the meaning of their loss in the broader framework of their ongoing lives (Boerner, Stroebe, Schut, & Wortman, 2016). In brief, the subjective meaning revolves around specific problems occasioned by the loss, such as the meaning of life and death, emotional identity and well-being, and changes in income level.

The third context is changing representations of the lost association. The description of the lost relationship reflects the development of meaning over time. The reason, in this regard, is that the pain of grief results in a gradual elaboration, reorganization, and redefinition of the exemplification of the lost relationship into a continued, lasting bond. The sustained connection provides support and comfort, reinforces coping efforts, and fosters continuity of identity during the transition to a new life. The last concept is the role of emotion regulation and coping processes that can exacerbate or mitigate the

(Boerner et al., 2016). In this regard, the act of talking with others regarding the painful occurrence is a necessary form of coping linked to cognitive restructuring. All in all, it may be preferable to depend on other techniques of dealing, given that discussing the loss may only be helpful when listeners are likely to help, nonjudgmental, or discreet.

Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Dying

The process of mourning is universal and consists of five phases. The first stage, as presented by Kübler-Ross, is denial, where the bereaved will deny the reality of a situation after learning of the passing of their loved one (Salah, Hussain, Ahmed, Azam, & Rafique, 2018). For example, the affected people tend to think that life is too overwhelming, has no meaning, and makes no sense since they are in a state of shock because life as they once knew it has changed drastically. However, denial is a normal response to downsizing overwhelming emotions. Secondly, reality and its pain re-emerge as the masking influence of isolation and rejection start to wear. The extreme sentiment is rebounded from the vulnerable core of those affected, expressed and redirected instead as anger. For instance, the bereaved will likely redirect their anger to family, close friends, or strangers. Nevertheless, it is thought that the more one truly feels the resentment, the more quickly it will heal and the faster it will dissipate.

The third aspect is bargaining. In this respect, the normal response to feelings of vulnerability and helplessness is required to regain control. The stage is false hope. For example, people tend to ask questions, such as if only they could have sought medical attention sooner. Behind closed doors, they bargain with a supreme being or God in an effort to suspend the inevitable (Salah et al., 2018). In essence, this is a weaker line of defense to safeguard them from the painful reality. The fourth concept linked to the bereavement process is depression. Regret and sadness outweigh this form of depression. For instance, the bereaved tend to worry about the burial and costs. The stage may be eased by simple reassurance and clarification. The last phase is acceptance. Here, the emotions of the affected people may start to stabilize. The grieving re-enters reality. For instance, one will eventually accept the fact that the new truth is that their spouse is never coming back, which is not a good thing, but they can live with it. In brief, this stage is marked by calmness and withdrawal.


In summary, the four-component model and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of dying to demonstrate that the objective of the bereaving process is the continuing surrender of a person’s psychological connection to the deceased. The renunciation of such an affection encompasses an agonizing internal tussle. Those left behind go through intense longing for the lost loved one. Nevertheless, they are faced with the reality of the absence of that individual. All in all, when a person completes the grief process, they regain adequate energy to invest in new pursuits and relationships.


Boerner, K., Stroebe, M., Schut, H., & Wortman, C. B. (2016). Grief and bereavement: theoretical perspectives. Encyclopedia of Geropsychology, 1–10. DOI: 10.1007/978-981-287-080-3_133-2

Cleiren, M. (2019). Bereavement and adaptation: A comparative study of the aftermath of a death. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Heilman, S. C. (2018). Death, bereavement, and mourning. New York, NY: Routledge.

Salah, S., Hussain, S., Ahmed, A., Azam, A., & Rafique, D. (2018). Death as transformation: examining grief from the perspective of Kubler-Ross in the selected movies. International Journal of English Linguistics9(1), 448. doi: 10.5539/ijel.v9n1p448

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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