Grief Ministry 

The Five Stages of Grief

When someone experiences a major loss, he or she begins a unique grief journey.  The process toward recovery takes time and involves a number of predictable stages.  These are necessary steps as a person seeks a healthy way to cope with loss. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in her seminal work, On Death and Dying, suggests there are five stages of grief.  These are not necessarily experienced linearly, but may overlap. The stages, popularly known by the acronym DABDA, include:

  1. Denial — One of the first reactions is denial, wherein the survivor imagines a false, preferable reality.
  2. Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"; "Why would God let this happen?".
  3. Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Other times, they will use anything valuable against another human agency to extend or prolong the life. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
  4. Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die soon so what's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?" During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the certainty of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
  5. Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.

Kübler-Ross later expanded her model to include any form of personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or income, major rejection, the end of a relationship or divorce, drug addiction, incarceration, the onset of a disease or chronic illness, a diagnosis of infertility, and even minor losses.

Coping with Loss

Coping with loss is often a difficult journey. The resources below are for individuals experiencing a death-related loss or for those seeking to help others. The “Grief Process” section is a good place to start. Other sections address issues more specifically. Resources are compiled by the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

Adolescent Grief
Advance Directives
Children’s Grief
Cultural Differences in Mourning
Death of a Child  (infant, child, adolescent, adult child)
Death of a Friend
Death of a Grandchild
Death of a Grandparent  
Death of a Parent
Death of a Sibling
Death of a Spouse or Partner
Funerals and Memorials  
Grief Process: What to Expect & Self-Care   
Grief Process: Gender Differences  
Holidays & Special Days     
How to Help Someone Who is Dying
How to Help Someone Who is Grieving
Natural Disasters, Terrorism and War
Organ Donation
Pet Loss
Right to Die/Physician-Assisted Suicide
Unrecognized Loss (Disenfranchised Grief)  
Violence and Traumatic Death

Devotions for the Grieving