What Are the Kubler-Ross Seven Stages of Death?

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Others have proposed two more stages: shock/disbelief (an offshoot of denial) and guilt (taking place between bargaining and depression).

Kübler-Ross outlined five stages of grief exhibited in those facing devastating situations; though inspired by her work with the dying, she asserted that this model can apply to anyone suffering a great personal loss or setback. Denial involves rejecting the reality of the traumatic situation and/or embracing an alternate situation or explanation instead. When dealing with death, the insistence that death isn't coming or the cause can be reversed may occur. Anger occurs when denial fails; the inability to sustain denial leads to frustration. This tends to manifest as blaming others or lamenting victimization. The dying may blame doctors for their alleged incompetence or curse a higher power for allowing the situation to occur.

Bargaining springs from the desire to mitigate or escape from the situation. In facing death, a resolve to change habits or an appeal to a higher power are typical forms of bargaining. Depression sets in when the situation appears to be insurmountable or beyond hope. Despondence and withdrawal are common manifestations. A dying person may refuse to cooperate with medical treatment or wish to be left alone in this stage. With Acceptance, the situation is acknowledged for what it is; this is often coupled with a desire to make the best of circumstances and/or an appreciation for past experiences and experiences yet to come.