What Is the Bargaining Stage of Grief: How to Cope
In This Article
Losing a loved one can be a traumatic and emotional experience, and everyone goes through a different process of grieving. The five stages of grief, namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, were introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969.
In this article, we’ll explore the bargaining stage of grief in detail. It’s marked by a desire to negotiate or make deals in an attempt to reverse or delay the loss. Understanding it can help individuals experiencing loss to navigate through their emotions and eventually reach a state of acceptance.
What are the stages of grief and types?
Grief is a natural response to loss, and it can manifest in different ways for different individuals. However, there are common patterns and stages that many people go through. The 5 stages of grief as said early, introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
These stages do not necessarily occur linearly, and people may move in and out of them at different times. The bargaining stage of grief is the third stage and typically occurs after the initial shock of loss has subsided.
Individuals in this stage may find themselves bargaining with a higher power or trying to negotiate a different outcome in an attempt to reverse the loss or lessen the pain. However, not everyone goes through all the stages of grief, and the order and duration of each stage can vary.
Additionally, some experts suggest that there are also different types of grief that individuals may experience, namely, anticipatory grief, complicated grief, and normal grief. Anticipatory grief is mourning that occurs when an individual knows that their loved one is going to die soon.
On the other hand, complicated grief is a prolonged and intense form of grief that can last for months or even years while normal grief is a reaction to any situation or loss and this type of grief is common for all human beings.
Understanding what are the stages of grieving and its different types can help individuals cope with their emotions and move towards healing. It’s important to remember that everyone’s grieving process is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Related Reading: 10 Things That Need to Happen When Grieving a Relationship
What is the bargaining stage of grief?
The bargaining stage of grief is the third stage in the five stages of the grief model. It typically occurs after the initial shock of the loss has passed and is characterized by a desire to negotiate with a higher power in an attempt to reverse or delay the loss.
But understanding what is bargaining in grief includes learning about its other linkages.
During this stage, individuals may feel a sense of guilt and believe that they could have prevented the loss if they had done something differently. As it’s referred to as the crazy-thinking stage, they may also make promises or deals with a higher power in exchange for a different outcome.
Among the examples of bargaining in grief is a person who lost a loved one to illness may bargain with God, promising to change their lifestyle if their loved one can be spared (Hango, 2015). Alternatively, a person may bargain asking for a new job in exchange for their good deeds.
The bargaining stage of grief can be a challenging time, as individuals may feel helpless in the face of their loss. However, it is important to recognize that this is a normal and natural part of the grieving process and that it can ultimately lead to acceptance and healing.
What does bargaining look like?
The bargaining stage of grief can manifest in many ways, and it often involves attempting to negotiate or make promises with a higher power. Among examples of bargaining in grief is an individual may pray for a loved one’s recovery or make sacrifices in exchange for more time with them.
During the bargaining stage of grief, individuals may feel a sense of guilt or regret, believing that they could have done something differently to prevent the loss. According to psychologist Caitlin Stanaway, it’s said that they may ruminate on past events and wonder what could have been done differently.
Moreover, they may struggle with feelings of helplessness and a lack of control, hence, experience a sense of frustration at their inability to control the situation of loss. At this point, they may attempt to regain a sense of control over the situation by bargaining with a higher power.
Ultimately, know that bargaining grief is a normal part of the grieving process, and it can help individuals to cope with their overwhelming emotions. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that bargaining cannot change the reality of the situation.
What happens in the bargaining stage?
In the bargaining stage of grief, individuals may experience a range of emotions and behaviors as they attempt to negotiate with a higher power in an effort to reverse or delay the loss. They may feel a sense of guilt and regret as they try to regain control over the situation.
This stage can be marked by a desire to make deals or promises in exchange for more time or a different outcome. People may make promises or deals with a higher power, such as praying for a loved one’s recovery or making sacrifices in exchange for more time with them.
Experiencing the loss of a loved one can be incredibly difficult, but it can also be challenging to know how to support someone who is going through the grieving process.
Ultimately, the bargaining stage of grief is a natural and necessary part of the grieving process. As individuals move through the bargaining stage, they may begin to come to terms with the reality of their loss and start to shift their focus towards acceptance.
How to move through the bargaining stage of grief
Moving through the bargaining stage of grief can be a challenging process, but several strategies may help individuals cope. It’s important to allow yourself to feel and express your emotions, seek support from loved ones or a therapist, and engage in self-care activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction.
Moreover, practicing mindfulness and staying present in the moment can also be helpful in managing overwhelming feelings of grief and anxiety. Moving through the stages of grief bargaining requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to confront difficult emotions. With time and support, individuals can find a sense of peace and acceptance.
Seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional, engaging in self-care activities, and accepting the reality of the situation are all important steps in moving through the bargaining stage of grief and finding a sense of healing and acceptance.
Some commonly asked questions
Get answers to the bargaining stage of grief’s most common frequently asked questions for a better understanding of what bargaining grief is or for help with controlling the situation of loss.
Is bargaining a coping mechanism?
Yes, bargaining grief is considered to be a coping mechanism. A professional counselor and a psychotherapist, Sultan and Awad (2020) say that it’s a way for individuals to try to regain control and negotiate with a higher power in the face of loss and uncertainty and helps individuals to process difficult emotions.
However, it’s important to recognize that bargaining cannot change the reality of the situation and that ultimately, individuals will need to move through the other stages of grief in order to come to terms with their loss and find a sense of peace and healing.
In this video, Carolyn Moor, an author and advocate for widows, talks about how to comfort and support those experiencing grief.
What are bargaining styles?
Bargaining styles refer to the different approaches individuals may take when attempting to negotiate or make deals with a higher power or themselves during the bargaining stage of grief. They may include seeking divine intervention, making promises, trying to gain more time, or attempting to control the situation in some way.
While each individual may have their own unique style of bargaining grief, the underlying goal is often the same: to serve as a way to cope with the difficult emotions and feelings of helplessness by finding a sense of control and agency during a time of great loss and uncertainty.
The key takeaway
In conclusion, the bargaining stage of grief is a natural and important part of the grieving process, marked by a range of emotions and behaviors as individuals attempt to come to terms with their loss. It allows individuals to feel a sense of control during a time of great loss.
While bargaining can provide a sense of control and agency, it’s important to recognize that it cannot change the reality of the situation and that individuals will need to move through the other 5 stages of grief to find a sense of acceptance and healing.
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