Kubler-Ross Five stages of Grief Model and Biblical Job

A Recapitulate of Kubler-Ross Five stages of Grief Model

The concept that there is a natural psychosomatic reaction to loss that involves a methodical sequence through discrete stages of grief has been extensively and authoritatively accepted. The stage theory of grief in dealing with adjustment to bereavement was initially postulated by Bowlby and Parkes which encapsulated four stages namely; shock-numbness, yearning-searching, disorganization-despair, and reorganization. Subsequently, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross adapted the Bowlby & Parkes’ theory in describing a five-stage response of terminally ill patients’ awareness of their impending death which are; denial-dissociation-isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Introduced in 1969, the Kubler-Ross model illustrates the five stages of grief where it is accentuated that grief is a natural retort and reaction to loss whereby the individual is confronted by emotional distress in the event that someone or something the individual has high anticipation upon or loves is taken away (Smith, 2012). Loss can be considered as either abstract or physical in which physical loss involves something touchable or measurable whereas abstract loss is attributable to an individual’s social interaction. The five stages of the Kubler-Ross model of grief, popularly known by the acronym DABDA, are not intended to be complete or sequential thus implying not everyone faced with grief will undergo all the five responses or do so in the particular order. It is assumed that the reaction to loss is unique to the individual experiencing them (Lim, 2013).

Denial is the first stage of grieving and is considered to be the temporary defense mechanism for the affected individual. It is instrumental in aiding individuals survive the bereavement and make the endurance possible. Denial is expressed either consciously or unconsciously as a negation to accept the actuality of the circumstances. The second stage of grief is anger. Anger is considered to be a necessary phase of the healing process and at this stage the bereaved person becomes cognizant of the fact that denial cannot persist. This stage marks the indication of one’s love and attachment to a particular person or subject. Anger is expressed through feelings of being rebellious such as envy and rage, and there are signs of wanting to fight back. The third stage is bargaining where the individual establishes the likelihood and optimism that one can suspend the loss.  The stage is marked by negotiations either within one’s self or between the grieving person and another individual. It should be noted, however, that bargaining do not offer a sustaining solution to grief (Lim, 2013). Depression follows at the fourth stage in which case the grieving individual is at a low mood state and will invariably get involved in forestalling of activities. The certainty of the loss becomes evident at this stage and there are expressions of overwhelming feelings of frustration, mourning, hopelessness, lack of control, as well as hopes and plans for the future.  The last stage of grieving is acceptance.  At this level individuals understand and realize that they have no choice but to accept the loss and not trying to persevere it. Individuals seek to find any good that could come from the pain of the loss and appreciate that the loss is not their fault and in so doing endeavor to find means for healing and comfort (Kubler-Ross, 1973).

Relating Kubler-Ross Model of Grief to Biblical Job

Denial: On receiving the news that he has lost his children and possessions, Job retorts that Yahweh (God) gave and now He has taken Back (Job 1: 13-19). It follows that Job suffers ulcers and informs his wife that if happiness comes from the hand of God, we should not take sorrow too (Vogels, 1981). This highlights that Job at this juncture is yet to integrate these sufferings into his life and it shows a sense of denial on his part being overwhelmed by experiencing something he has not gone through before. Although the words of job may seem like acceptance, it is evident that his reaction shows an unwillingness to admit the anguish.

Anger: Following his first reaction to his loss Job experiences loneliness and when his three friends visit him no one is in a position to comfort him. At this stage emotions overwhelm him and he is troubled by doubts which eventually leave him flared up with anger. This is evident when Job curses the day of his birth and wishes he had died as a new-born and this is seen of him directing his anger to other like his mother and later he direct his anger against God and accuses him of injustice (Vogels, 1981).

Bargaining: After expressing his anger towards his mother for bringing him into the miserable world, his friends for not showing up with help, and God for being the final source of his predicaments, Job opts to make a prayer to God. The prayer of Job can be considered as bargaining subject to the definition of Kubler-Ross model. In his prayers Job is seen to plead and beg to God (Vogels, 1981). At this stage, Job realizes the need for him to survive despite his misery and pleads for the help to postpone his anguish.

Depression: After Job has done his pleading and bargaining with God and God does not seem to answer he gets to the point of giving up.  He enters into a state of solitude and silence and ceases to speak while his friends too seem to give up on him and when nobody seems to care anymore, Job moves into isolation (Vogels, 1981). The silence and withdrawal of Job is clear sign of his depression.

Acceptance: The words of Elihu to Job serve as an invitation for him to turn God in fright. His depression id not his last attitude and in his silence God gets to speak to him and he is advised to let go and cease the protest (Vogels, 1981). This marks a journey towards self-awareness and reestablishing contact with others. Even though still in the midst of all his anguish Job reaches a stage of acceptance and transforms into a different person and stops blaming God but rather becomes a friend of Him.


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