The Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle


The Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle

For many years, people with terminal illnesses were an embarrassment for doctors. Someone who could not be cured was evidence of the doctors’ fallibility, and as a result the doctors regularly shunned the dying with the excuse that there was nothing more that could be done (and that there was plenty of other demand on the doctors’ time).

 

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a doctor in Switzerland who railed against this unkindness and spent a lot of time with dying people, both comforting and studying them. She wrote a book, called ‘On Death and Dying’ which included a cycle of emotional states that is often referred to (but not exclusively called) the Grief Cycle. In the ensuing years, it was noticed that this emotional cycle was not exclusive just to the terminally ill, but also other people who were affected by bad news, such as losing their jobs or otherwise being negatively affected by change. The important factor is not that the change is good or bad, but that they perceive it as a significantly negative event.

The Grief Cycle:

The Grief Cycle can be shown as in the chart below, indicating the roller-coaster ride of activity and passivity as the person wriggles and turns in their desperate efforts to avoid the change.

The initial state before the cycle is received is stable, at least in terms of the subsequent reaction on hearing the bad news. Compared with the ups and downs to come, even if there is some variation, this is indeed a stable state. And then, into the calm of this relative paradise, a bombshell bursts… Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news. Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable. Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion. Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out. Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable. Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions. Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.

©Written By Dr Patty For requirements leading Doctoral Dissertation. No copying without consent

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