The Grief Process: Dying vs Bereavement, Components

The Grief Process

Dying vs Bereavement

Dying can be described as the emotion and feelings expressed in the process of losing a life. When someone loses his or her life the remaining close friends and relatives normally experiences a loss. Bereavement can, therefore, be expressed as the outward expression following a loss which varies depending on the life span (Currer, 2017). The human life span is psychologically divided into four distinct stages that are childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. These broad stages are further categorized based on different age groups. The childhood stage has the age groups 3-5 years and 6-12 years, the adolescence span the ages 13-19 years and is proceeded by adulthood. Adulthood is divided into 3 main stages namely the young adult, 20-40 years, middle-age adults, 40-60 years and the elderly adults who are above 60 years (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2018).

The dying process precedes death while bereavement begins immediately after death. The dying process is often experienced by the dying patients as well as the care providers and the close family and friends, unlike the bereavement that is often felt by those who have felt the loss alone. The dying process is divided into 5 stages namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance while the grief process is divided into four stages i.e. reeling, feeling, dealing and finally the healing process (Currer, 2017).

The four-component model of Grief

Grief is the word used to describe the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors expressed by an individual while dealing with the loss. Loss may be a result of the death of a loved one, a beloved pet even to a broken relationship. The four-component model of grief was described by a nursing professor, Linda Rodebaugh and her colleagues in the spring of the year 1999. According to the model one undergoing grief passes through four stages namely reeling, feeling, dealing and dealing. Reeling is described by being stunned as a result of the sudden loss. At a times one would make attempts to bargain with a higher power to bargain the reversal of the death. The second stage of the model which is feeling involves emotions that appear rapidly and simultaneously. These emotions would include anger, anguish, guilt, deep sadness, loneliness, helplessness and detachment. Following the feelings come attempts to deal and cope up with the loss both mentally and practically. The final stage is described as the healing process (Boerner et al., 2017). It involves integrating the loss into daily life and moving forward.

I’m a male who lives in California. When I was a child of 12 years I lost my dad suddenly to a road accident. The 4 component model to the grieving process explains most of the reasons for my grief reactions. For the first I in terms of the news of the death of my dad, I did not personally believe the new until I went to view the body in the morgue. Having learned basic knowledge in school I was well aware that my dad would not come back. I had mixed feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety and even guilt. The feelings would kick in uncontrollably and simultaneously and I felt death had targeted me unfairly. Since my dad died in a road accident I made attempts to stop everyone I loved from boarding a vehicle. I began to reason and address issues that were far above my age. According to some witnesses, I began to adopt some strange behaviors which according to me would help bring back my dad. Finally, when I began to realize that the attempts were futile I began to come to terms with the situation as part of the healing process.

Kübler-Ross’s five stages of dying

Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychologist, explains the five stages a dying patient as well as those who care for him or her progress through. The model has been popularly known as the DABDA method which includes dying, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Currer, 2017). The model is fundamental for care providers who deal with dying patients in understanding the nature of care and support the client’s need. In the first stage, the patient will act in denial. In most cases, these patients will begin to plan for future events such as vacations. These phenomena are often referred to as alternative reality. In some situations, the patients may think the proclamation was due to a wrong prognosis and everything is just alright.

The denial stage is often followed by the anger stage. In this stage, the patient is no longer able to deny their imminent death. This is often frustrating and leads to arousing of anger since they feel helpless. Sometimes this kind of anger and frustrations may be directed towards close friends, family and care providers. The third stage is the bargaining stage. At this point patient bargains with a higher power asking for Devine intervention for prolonged life. In most scenarios, they often give promises of what they would do if God intervenes. The bargaining stage is often followed by depression. At this point, the patients go into a stage of despair and defeat. Symptoms associated with defeat are often expressed including sadness, fatigue, self-harm, self-pity, and social avoidance. The last in the dying process involves the calming and stability of emotions. They, in turn, begin to reflect on memories and planning for the future including updating the will (Boerner et al., 2017). An understanding of these stages of grief allows the care providers and psychologists to offer support and guidance to both the dying patient and the family or friends.



Boerner, K., Stroebe, M., Schut, H. A. W., & Wortman, C. B. (2017). Grief and Bereavement: Theoretical Perspectives. Encyclopedia of Geropsychology, 979-986.

Currer, C. (2017). Responding to grief: Dying, bereavement and social care. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2018). Human development: A life-span view. Cengage Learning.

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