Death and Dying

It can be hard to address the emotional and psychological responses people feel towards death and others dying. One of my favourite theories explaining this is by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She proposes that there are five stages that people go through, known as:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

During the first stage, denial works as a defence mechanism. People refuse to believe the reality of near death, and this helps to ease anxiety. Denial has been seen as a positive coping method, giving people the opportunity to come to terms with the fact that they are dying in their own time when they are ready to cope.

During the second stage of anger, the dying persons accepts that the diagnosis is correct and this makes them angry. They cannot understand why them and this can also cause them to be angry at others.

When people are in the bargaining stage, they try to negotiate the situation with others such as medical staff, family and in some cases God. Examples include asking for a possible cure, less pain, or more extra time.

During the fourth stage, depression kicks in as people realise the reality that their time is nearly up and there is nothing they can do about it. The person may start to grieve several factors such as experiencing any symptoms, and knowing how less time they have.

When people are fully in terms with their dying, they enter the acceptance stage. This is a stage where a person is in a state of peace as they have readily accepted that they are to die.

The reason why I love this theory is that it is very flexible – it can be applied to particularly every situation. For example, family members of the dying person can relate to these stages. So can students avoiding assignments. It can also work for people with debts – any situation really!

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