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Spirituality in Health Care


Elizabeth Kübler-Ross stages of grief explains the manner in which somebody copes with grief or the tragedy that occurs especially in the event that the person is experiencing a tragedy accompanied or involving catastrophic loss. She describes the grief process in a five stage model and first concentrated on the personal suffering with terminal illness. The personal loss culminating from job, loss of loved ones, or any other such losses were used to develop the five stages grieving process. Of the five stages in the process, the grieving person may experience them all or at least two of them. The steps do not follow any logical order but they are experienced by people in any order. These steps do not signify a process because they are not fixed as a process would demand but they represent a framework or a guide to grieving. The steps do not follow a linear sequence and they have different experiences depending on the individual. This is because the way people react to emotional trauma differs from one person to another. The five steps of grieving process as presented by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross are discussed in the following paragraphs.

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Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief

The first step in the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross grieving framework is denial. She describes denial as conscious or otherwise personal initiative that is taken by a person to refute the facts about what has happened in their lives. Denial is a form of defense mechanism that defines a person’s reaction to the situations happening in his life and is natural. Some situations like death are not avoidable and people find themselves naturally denying it. They try to refuse that it has already happened. According to Kübler-Ross (1969, 1), “Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored”. Others move a step further depending on the intensity of the situation.

The other step is anger which is explained as the reaction of people when emotionally upset and it comes out in diverse ways depending on the situation and the characters involved. People could be angry to themselves or to others who are involved in the situation one is in. This stage happens when one cannot handle denial any more and now reacts to the reality. It arises out of the reaction to the facts of a situation that he questions why they occurred to him at such a time like that. The feelings of rage become significantly misplaced and the person is hard to control until the rage comes back to normal.

After the rage subsides, the person may enter the third stage regarded by Kübler-Ross (1996, 1) as bargaining stage. Bargaining is done with the God that one believes in and it involves attempt to negotiate a compromise (Kübler-Ross, 1996, 1). The person questions why his God could allow such a thing happen to him. This stage hardly offers a sustainable solution to the situation as one continues to blame the person who could have caused the situation especially when it was within the means of that person to control.

The fourth step is depression which is the beginning of a person accepting the reality. It is a practice of aftermath and it takes varying shapes depending on different individuals. According to Kübler-Ross, “It’s a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It’s natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc”. (Kübler-Ross, 1996, 1). The grieved person now tries to disconnect himself from the things on which the loss occurred. For instance if they lost their loved ones, they will detach themselves from things of love.

The final stage is the acceptance of reality of the facts of the situation. One may enter this stage earlier in the grieving process depending on their reaction to their situation. It is the total healing process and the grieved person starts to detach themselves from emotional feelings regarding the situation.

Job’s Grieve in Relation to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief

In the Bible, Job was a good man who was God feared and bestowed full trust in God. He faced great troubles all of which God allowed because he was testing his patience, perseverance and his Faith in Him. God testified to Satan that Job was an upright man in His eyes and Satan argued that if God would allow trouble to him, he would denounce Him. Knowing that Job would never denounce Him, God allowed the Satan to trouble him but should not touch his soul. Job therefore suffered great loss of his wealth and children and even the glory of his own body was tainted as he was trouble with leprosy. Despite all these sufferings, Job remained right with God and did not denounce Him. His grieving process however touched some of the stages that were mentioned by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross but his reactions were different in some respects. The story of the suffering of Job is about the loss of loved ones (his children) and properties. This relates to the basis of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross grieving process. The table below compares the grieving process of Job in the Bible in relation to the stages explained by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross.

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Comparison and Contrast of Job’s Grief and the Stages of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

Stage Elizabeth Kübler-Ross expected reaction Job’s reaction
1. Denial The grieved person “consciously or unconsciously refuses the facts about his suffering” (Kübler-Ross, E (1969, 1) Job did not deny the facts that were happening in his life. According to Keith (2005, 1), Job after hearing the story about the loss of his wealth and the servants, he accepted the facts. He stood up and declared that he comes on earth with nothing and God has just taken what He gave. He praised God for all that happened. However, Job denied the fact that he is worthy to live any more and he desired to die.
2. Anger Anger is explained as the reaction of people when emotionally upset. The grieving person reacts to the facts that he could no longer deny. He may react to himself, the persons involved or the situation itself as he questions why it ever happened to him. Jobs reaction was commensurate with this stage. When he heard of the happenings, he tore his clothes and shaved his hair to signify his sadness(Keith, 2005, 1). He was angry with the situation but not with God because he just worshiped Him. He also testifies that his spirit is angry in the word in Job 7:11 that “These facts upset me; and I cannot remain silent. So, I shall speak. My spirit is angry. So, I will complain”. (Keith, 2005, 1).
3. Bargaining In this stage, the grieved tries to negotiate a compromise with the God who he believes in. according to (Kübler-Ross, E (1969, 1), this stage hardly offers a solution to the problem. One places the blame on the person who allowed the trouble to happen when he could have controlled it. Job did not fully skip this step. He blamed God for everything that happened to him. As stated by Keith, quoting Job 6:4, Job says that “I feel as if God shot me with arrows. There is poison on the arrows. And the poison enters my spirit. God has caused me many troubles” (Keith, 2005, 1). He even asked God to kill him or aloe him to die.
4. Depression The stage where one starts accepting the reality. The reaction in this stage varies depending on the individuals. According to Kübler-Ross, “It’s a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It’s natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc”. (Kübler-Ross, 1996, 1). The person tries to detach from the thing that caused trouble. For Job, the case was slightly different. He accepted the reality at first although he denied that he should continue to live. He regretted the day where in he was born and said that it should have been blotted out. He started accepting the reality when he argues that sad still live though they desire to die. he says that God has put a hedge around him which could be protecting him from dying as he wishes.
5. Acceptance This stage may happen earlier in the grieving steps. The person is getting to total healing after accepting the reality as it is. Healing comes through detaching from the emotional feeling and seeking freedom from them. Jobs acceptance occurred at the first stage of his troubles and continued till the end. He eventually accepted that even his complaints were for nothing and he repented for all of them. God restored his glory and he was blessed with more wealth than he had before even sons and daughters.

Jobs grieving process was therefore to some extent related to the 5 steps of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross.


Elizabeth Kübler-Ross 5 steps of the grieving process are experienced by people in life even if not all and not in the sequential manner. One goes through at least two of them.

Reference List

Keith, S. (2005). Job, a servant of God. UK: Wycliffe Associates (UK). Web.

Kübler-Ross, E (1969). Kubler-ross model for death and bereavement counselling, Personal change and trauma: Elisabeth kübler-ross – five stages of grief. (Interpretation by Alan Chapman 2006-2009.).Groby road Leicester: business balls community. Web.

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