Bargaining, the Next Stage

This Weekly Dose explores the next stage of grief as defined by Elizabeth Kubler Ross. Bargaining is often called the third stage of grief and bargaining, like anger, creates a much-needed sense of distance between us and the reality of our loss. This stage offers a slight reprieve from the harshness of the grief we’re experiencing, giving us a chance to begin to wrap our minds around it and then to integrate the loss into our reality. In this way, bargaining provides us with some protection against overwhelming emotions.

Bargaining with God, fate, our spouse, or other outside forces, is a normal part of the grieving process. We might make a deal with God or our life-partner, promising that if they would just give us another chance, we know we can make the relationship work. It is important to be cautious not to make deals, in your mind or in reality, that are not beneficial to you.

Learning to accept that bargaining does serve a purpose in the healing process and allowing it to work for your good is your best option. Discussing your relationship and expressing your feelings and thoughts with trusted friends, family, a support group, or counselor, is extremely helpful.

Telling the story of your marriage and break-up (and this may need to be done repeatedly) helps to release locked up feelings, which then allows you to begin accepting the grief and loss you are feeling.

Bargaining steadies you and offers a sense of control when emotions are raw and the grief feels overwhelming. In this way, it serves you well. As you begin to integrate the ragged emotions that accompany the loss of your marriage, you will begin to make sense of this new reality and view it with clarity and, at times, acceptance.

Denise Palmer


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