What Are the Seven Stages of Death?

The seven stages of grief following a death are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression and acceptance. This model of grieving was originally proposed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Shock and denial are often combined into a single stage. This is the initial reaction to a death, in which an individual cannot comprehend the news that a loved one has died. These stages are characterized by feelings of disbelief and deflection.

Anger typically occurs next, as an individual seeks to lash out at others as a response to the emotional pain of the death. The inexplicable and often sudden nature of death leads people to feelings of powerlessness, frustration and rage.

After anger, grieving individuals move into bargaining. While this is typically an illogical response to death, it represents another method of attempting to make sense of mortality. Individuals may attempt to make some personal adjustment in their daily habits in exchange for the return of a departed loved one.

In the guilt stage, the grieving individual turns his negative feelings inward. Guilt can be seen as an attempt to gain control of the circumstances. By shifting blame to themselves, grieving individuals create a defined target for their feelings.

After moving through different deflection strategies, the individual finally realizes the unalterable nature of the situation and lapses into depression. Beyond depression comes acceptance, in which the individual finally makes peace with the death and begins moving forward.