5 Stages of Grief: Bargaining

“if I just give my life to you, you can make me whole again” or “I promise to be a better person, just give me back my life”, are you familiar with these statements? Perhaps you have already heard them or you have come to this stage of grief as well.

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969) expressed Bargaining as individual’s goal to return to the previous state by wishing to go back to a state of life when an accident or death didn’t happen yet. She explained that bargaining can obviously be perceived when someone communicates doing toils just to bring back the previous state of relationship or life. Cambridge Dictionary (2017) also defined the word bargain as the condition of both parties to fulfill certain agreement in hope for a tangible gain.

We can see that bargaining is associated with the will to fight to return to former things even up to the point of irrational constructs. Bargaining is in fact one of the longest and hardest phases of grieving because it involves how an individual approach the situation. They can even express high hopes to bring back the past, gathering pieces of items that can causes to feel the companionship of bereaved loved ones or doing previous habits in spite of weakened health condition. On the other hand, bargaining in thought and action must be interpreted as individual’s display of a weak character. Placing ourselves in their shoes is a necessary intervention to widen our understanding and consider that their thought-pattern and actions are institutionalized phase included in the grieving process. It needs to be anticipated by the support group in order to help people overcome. It is also necessary that individuals who are experiencing bargaining get to be informed about their situation, having a consciousness that this is just a temporary phase. But considering the patient’s standpoint, bargaining is a personal struggle we have to go through to heal. Personally, I think that it can last for years although we are slowly adapting to changes of new lifestyle. In fact questions like “why do you let me live just to experience pain” or “why take good people so early” may be repeated again every time we face difficult situations after the life-changing event happened. There is no easy way to get off from this stage. As a matter of fact, if we realize the reality after self-constructs, it will eventually lead us to depression. Ross, E. K., & Kessler, D. (n.d.) indicated that bargaining is associated with the feeling of self-condemnation and individuals intentionally live in the previous state to alleviate the pain. So the best intervention is not to lead them to wrong expectations.

Helping a person or family to overcome requires the team effort from friends, relatives, and a community that will guide them to accept life. That’s why it is very important to consider not only the patient’s condition but also the urgency to restrict activities that will only hurt them later on.



Cambridge Dictionary. (2017). Bargain Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/bargain

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). Bargaining stage. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/kubler_ross/bargaining_stage.htm

Ross, E. K., & Kessler, D. (n.d.). Five Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/


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