Kubler-Ross on Death and Dying

These stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we fall in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.

Stage One: Denial

Denial and shock help us cope by helping us to pace our feelings. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you ask questions and move through the process, you are gradually absorbing and dealing with the information. You are becoming stronger, and the denial will begin to fade.

Stage Two: Anger

Anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. It has no limits and may reflect on others that you care about. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned. By feeling your anger, it will begin to fade and you will begin to better deal with the information.

Stage Three: Bargaining

As anger lessens, or even in its midst, a person may begin to psychologically bargain for intangibles like time or changed circumstances. Guilt and regret often accompany the bargaining stage.

Stage Four: Depression

Following bargaining, your attention typically shifts to the present, often resulting in despondency and loneliness. To progress through the depression stage you must try to open up and talk about what you’re feeling, no matter the difficulty. You are not alone.

Stage Five: Acceptance

You will eventually learn to live with this new reality. Instead of denying your feelings, you listen to your needs; you move, you change, you grow, and you evolve. You may start to reach out to others and become involved again. Once you are able to accept your diagnosis, you will be able to actively manage your health.