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The Five Stages of Grief

Proposed By: Dr. Elisabeth Kbler-Ross

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework
that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and
identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not
everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages
comes the knowledge of griefs terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. At
times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is a unique as you
are (Kessler, 2014)

The stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of
life. Mourning occurs in response to an individuals own terminal illness, the loss of a close
relationship, or to the death of a valued being, human or animal. There are five stages of normal
grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kbler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.
(Axelrod, 20004)

E.K.R P h a s e E x p l a n a t i o n
Stage 1:
This first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the
world becomes meaningless and overwhelming.
Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information,
reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It's a defense mechanism
and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when
dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not
particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.
As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions,
you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming
stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the
feelings you were denying begin to surface.
Stage 2:
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your
anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the
more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. As the masking
effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge.
Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset
can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to
them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgmental when
experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.
Stage 3 :
Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve
attempting to bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People
facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise.
For example "Can we still be friends?" when facing a break-up.
Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it's a matter
of life or death. Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher
power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of
defense to protect us from the painful reality. Before a loss, it seems like
you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. Please
God, you bargain.
Stage 4:
After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty
feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level,
deeper than we ever imagined. Depression is also referred to as
preparatory grieving. In a way it's the dress rehearsal or the practice run
for the 'aftermath' although this stage means different things depending on
whom it involves. It's a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's
natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the
person has at least begun to accept the reality. It is a Final realization of
the inevitable.
Stage 5:
Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death
may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or
denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to
deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked
by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be
distinguished from depression. Again this stage definitely varies according
to the person's situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is
some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this
stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must
necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the
grief. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is
physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent
(Based on the Grief Cycle model first published in On Death & Dying, Elisabeth Kbler-Ross,
1969. Interpretation by Alan Chapman 2006-2013.)

References :
Axelrod, J. (2006). The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 31, 2014,

Kessler, David. (2013). The five stages of Grief. Retrieved on July 31, 2014 from

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. (1997). On Death and Dying. Scribner. (Siwtzerland)

The Ecological Systems Theory
Developed by: Urie Bronfenbrenner.
Bronfenbrenner believed that a person's development was affected by everything in their
surrounding environment. He divided the person's environment into five different levels: the
microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macro system, and the chronosystem. In this
lesson, you will learn about these different environmental levels by meeting five-year-old Alex
and examining the influences in his life.

In 1979, Urie Bronfenbrenner created his ecological systems theory to explain how their
immediate and surrounding environment affects the way in which children grow and develop.
There are five different environmental systems that influence childhood development. If there is
a change in any one of the five environmental systems, it can potentially cause a change in the
According to Bronfenbrenner, development and socialization are influenced by the different
width rounds or circles of the environment with which a person is in active inter-relation. This
includes three significant assumptions: 1) person is an active player, exerting influence on
his/her environment, 2) environment is compelling person to adapt to its conditions and
restrictions and 3) environment is understood to consist of different size entities that are placed
one inside another, of their reciprocal relationships and of micro-, meso-, exo- and macrosystems
(Bronfenbrenner 1979; Saarinen, 1994, 88.)

Systems structures in Bronfenbrenners theory
The names of the five systems are:

The microsystem
The microsystem is depicted by the green circle. It's where the immediate interactions of the
child take place. The microsystem includes both family and peers. The microsystem is the
system closest to the person and the one in which they have direct contact. Some examples
would be home, school, daycare, or work. A microsystem typically includes family, peers, or
caregivers. Relationships in a microsystem are bi-directional. In other words, your reactions to
the people in your microsystem will affect how they treat you in return. This is the most
influential level of the ecological systems theory.
Bronfenbrenner (1989, 227), in order to underline the possible meaning for development of the
personal qualities of the significant people in the immediate environment, has added to the
original definition of the microsystem an italicized later clause.
According to the text a microsystem is a pattern of activities, roles, and interpersonal relations
experienced by developing person in a given face-to-face setting with particular physical and
material features, and containing other persons with distinctive characteristics of temperament,
personality, and systems of belief.

The mesosystem
The definition of the following system is unchanged, i.e. it has survived Bronfenbrenners own
critique (Bronfenbrenner 1989, 227). The mesosystem, comprises the linkages and processes
taking place between two or more settings containing the developing person (e.g., the relations
between home and school, school and workplace etc.). In other words, a mesosystem is a system
of microsystems. Paquette and Ryan (2001) define the mesosystem by saying that this layer
produces the connections between the child microsystems, i.e. connections between the childs
teacher and the parents or the childs church and the neighborhood.
The mesosystem - which is two microsystems interacting, such as the connection between a
childrens home and school. Saarinen (1994, 89) explain the mesosystem by saying that it
consists of the relationships that the childs and a young persons Microsystems have between
themselves. Important are first of all the relation between home and mother and child clinic,
home and kindergarten, as well as home and school interaction. It is important to see if the
influencing factors of socialization have coinciding or opposing directions, in other words, do the
different Microsystems support each other or does the developing person perceive them as
clashing pressures, are there in different microsystems expectations or obligations for different
ways of behavior. According to Bronfenbrenner, the analysis of inter-microsystems relations has
been very much onesided. There has been an analysis of how day care and school separately
influence child development but it has been overlooked to study the joint influence of them and

The exosystem
The exosystem, encompasses the linkage and processes taking place between two or more
settings, at least one of which does not ordinarily contain the developing person, but in which
events occur that influence processes within the immediate settings that does contain that person
(e.g. for a child, relation between the home and the parents work place; for a parent, the
relations between the school and the neighborhood group) (Bronfenbrenner 1989, 227).
This here is an example of a definition that should rather be read slowly than glanced over. There
are misreadings in the interpretation of this definition. The examples in the brackets help to
understand that the question may be about interaction between two different systems where the
child does belong, like home and such a system where the child does not belong, but that
influences his/her microsystems like home, i.e. it is a parents workplace. Another example tells
the same thing from the point of view of a parent.

The Macrosystem
The fourth level of ecological systems theory is the macrosystem. The macrosystem
encompasses the cultural environment in which the person lives and all other systems that affect
them. Examples could include the economy, cultural values, and political systems. The
macrosystem can have either a positive or a negative effect on a person's development.As a
consequence of Bronfenbrenners own critique (1989, 228; 2002, 265) of his own theory the
definition of the macrosystem changed the most. In the first place it was influenced by
Vygotskis theory about the psyches sociohistorical evolution that led to see the macrosystem as
a sociocultural context. Another source was the concept of personal properties that accelerate
development, foremostly the concept of conceptual systems. The corrected definition
(Bronfenbrenner 1989, 228) runs as follows and the addition is italicized: The macrosystem
consists of the overarching pattern of micro-, meso-, and exosystems characteristic of a given
culture, subculture, or other broader social context, with particular reference to the
developmentally-instigative belief systems, resources, hazards, life styles, opportunity structures,
life course options, and patterns of social interchange that are embedded in each of these
systems. The macrosystem can be thought of as a societal blueprint for a particular culture,
subculture, or other broader social context.

The chronosystem
It is surprising that even if Bronfenbrenners ecological theory refers to human development and
even if his chart of development features the development flow time period (t-p), so the time
system as related to the systems was not included in the original theory. It came about only later.
The chronosystem is a description of the evolution, development or stream of development of the
external systems in time. The chronosystem models can cover either a short or long period of
time (Bronfenbrenner 1989, 201-202). The time change has been shown in the models
(Sage 1998 a, b, c) by using the terms like change, development, history, time and course of
ones life. Any system, like this one, includes roles and rules that can have a strong influence on
development. Quite a few sources picture the entirety of roles, relations and actions as factors
that have influence on development.

\References :

Bronfenbrenners Ecological Systems Theory. Retrieved from

Bronfenbrenner, U. 1979. The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and
design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Paquette, D. & Ryan, J. 2001. Bronfenbrenners Ecological Systems Theory. (2007).

Saarinen, P., Ruoppila, I. & Korkiakangas, M. 1994. Kasvatuspsykologian kysymyksi.
Helsingin yliopisto: Lahden koulutus- ja tutkimuskeskus. [Problems in Educational Psychology.
University of Helsinki: Lahtis Centrum of Education and Research]