What is Bargaining Stage of Grief?

What is Bargaining Stage of Grief?
Bargaining Stage of Grief

Grieving is a natural process that everyone, at one point or another, will experience in their life. It is a complex experience that has no time limit or one-size-fits-all approaches. One of the most common models used to understand the stages of grief is the Kubler-Ross Model, which outlines five distinct stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Of these five stages, bargaining is often one of the more difficult ones to understand. This guide will provide an overview of the stages of grief, including what bargaining in grief looks like, as well as exploring various cultural and religious perspectives, seeking professional help, how to cope during the process, and highlighting additional resources for further information.

It is important to note that these stages of grief are not intended to be linear, and that people may not experience all of them, nor will the process necessarily follow a specific order.

What is Bargaining in the Stages of Grief?

Bargaining is one of the five stages of grief and it is likely to appear during the grieving process of any kind of loss. This stage is a plea for a way out of the suffering caused by the loss. During this stage, the person in grief attempts to negotiate with his or her higher power, life, or death in order to try and come up with a solution that would be more satisfactory than the current reality.

The bargaining stage is usually characterized by an over-whelming feeling of desperation leading to the person trying to bargain or make a deal with the higher power or the fate that is responsible for the loss. This could include promises from the individual such as doing something or giving up something in return for the lost person or thing.

The individual in this stage is hoping for some kind of miracle, although deep inside they know that such a miracle is impossible. This is why the bargaining stage of grief is often seen as a phase of despair and helplessness. People may also attempt to bargain with themselves, while striving to find a way to bring back the lost person or thing in their lives.

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    Elaborating on Common Behaviours Associated with Bargaining

    The grief process is often broken down into five stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—which are experienced in various ways depending on the individual. Bargaining is one of the most complex stages, and it is marked by a variety of behaviours that can appear bewildering to outsiders.

    Bargaining often starts with the bereaved desperately trying to make sense of their loss. This means asking questions such as ‘why’ and ‘what if’ out loud, or in internal dialogue. The bereaved may try to gain control again by making promises or deals—they may promise to do something better in life, or an act of kindness, in exchange for gaining something back.

    This can manifest as making a deal with a higher power, or hoping for a sign from the deceased. Other typical bargaining behaviours include reminiscing and going over memories of the deceased in detail, or trying to find ever more complex explanations for their loss. For many, bargaining can appear to be almost obsessive in nature, as they desperately cling to the idea they may be able to reverse their loss.

    Some people may also become fixated on time—going over events leading up to their loss and trying to pinpoint if there was anything they could have done differently. Others may have moments of panic as they feel they cannot let go and move on with their life. It is important to note that while these behaviours may appear irrational or illogical to outsiders, they are all normal parts of the grief process, and people should not be judged for their experiences.

    Religious and Cultural Traditions and Grief Bargaining

    The way individuals deal with loss is a reflection of the beliefs and traditions that make up their cultural background. While some cultures may encourage open sharing of emotions, expressing joy and sorrow, supported by rituals, other cultures may require outwardly stoic behaviour.

    When it comes to bargaining in grief, religious and cultural traditions vary significantly. For example, in Christianity, bargaining in grief is seen as a hopeful prayer for divine intervention during a distressing time, while the practice of voodoo requires adherents to bargain for spiritual protection and guidance.

    In Hinduism, bereaved family members can fast, perform rites of cleansing, pray to deities and read scriptures as a way to bargain with higher powers. In Judaism, one may express remorse for any wrongs committed, for example, asking for forgiveness before the deceased passes away, in exchange for a peaceful afterlife.

    In Chinese culture, bargaining in grief follows a set of rituals to be performed by members of the bereaved family. These include burning joss paper, in the belief that they will reach the spirit of the deceased. Others may conduct Taoist ceremonies and offer food and drinks, which is interpreted as providing sustenance to the deceased.

    Those belonging to the Islamic faith may turn to the Quran to find solace in times of grief. The grieving individual could recite special verses and prayers to bargain for Allah’s mercy and compassion during a difficult time.

    At the heart of these religious and cultural traditions is the understanding that grief is a natural process and the belief that providing comfort to the deceased in the afterlife is possible through bargaining.

    The Role of Bargaining in Grief: Exploring Counselors' and Psychologists' Perspectives

    Bargaining is a common stage of grief, but it is one that can often be misunderstood. To better understand the role of bargaining in the grieving process, it is important to consider the perspective of grief counselors and psychologists.

    Grief counselors and psychologists often describe the bargaining stage as a way for people to try to negotiate with themselves in order to cope with difficult emotions. This could involve making promises or deals with oneself, such as “If this pain goes away, I'll never get angry again.” On a more spiritual level, it can also involve bargaining with a higher power. People may ask for extra time with a loved one or plead for a sign that the decedent is in a better place.

    In counseling, a grief counselor may focus on helping an individual work through the bargaining stage by teaching them how to recognize these coping strategies and process them in a healthier way. For example, a counselor may help the individual find acceptance in expressing their emotions, including sadness and anger, instead of attempting to bargain them away. They may also provide the individual with tools to help them cope with their loss and find meaningful ways to honor their loved one’s memory.

    Psychologists may approach the bargaining stage differently. For example, some may suggest that the stage is simply a defense mechanism that allows the individual to avoid facing the reality of the loss and postpone grieving their loved one. Others might take a more understanding approach, believing that an individual is simply trying to make sense of their traumatic loss.

    It is important to remember that the bargaining stage is natural and should be respected. While it is not necessarily something to strive for, it can provide an opportunity for growth and healing.

    Analysing Case Studies of Bargaining in Grief

    When someone is experiencing grief, they may enter into the bargaining stage. It is a difficult period of time and can be hard to understand. To help better explain it, we can examine the experiences and stories from those who have gone through it.

    By looking at the case studies of people going through the bargaining stage of grief, we can gain valuable insight into what this period looks like. Commonly, people in this stage will attempt to negotiate with a higher power, such as God or an ancestor, to bring back the person they have lost. They might make promises or perform certain behaviours in the hopes of a positive outcome, even though deep down they know it won’t change the situation.

    In some cases, people may actively search for a way to undo the death. For example, they may believe that if they act in a certain way, their loved one could return. This is a form of bargaining, as the person is trying to find some sense of control by making a ‘deal’. In other cases, people might bargain for a different outcome, such as more time with the deceased or understanding why they had to go.

    Additionally, people may also focus on the details of their loved one’s passing and speculate about what they could have done differently. This kind of bargaining can be seen in people who feel guilty or regretful about their part in the death. No matter what form it takes, the bargaining stage of grief is a difficult one to process.

    The Importance of Being Patient and Understanding the Purpose of Bargaining in the Grieving Process

    Bargaining is a common reaction to loss of any kind and can be an emotionally taxing stage for anyone going through it. It is important to remember that grief isn’t something that simply passes with time, but rather it is a process with several stages. The bargaining stage is an important one as it provides an outlet for us to cope and make sense of the pain we are feeling. In order for us to move forward, it is vital that we understand what this stage is and why it is so important.

    In the bargain stage, we often attempt to make deals or negotiate with the universe. We think of things that we could have done differently, what we will do differently and ways that we could have prevented the situation from occurring in the first place. It is here that we grapple with the idea of trying to undo what may have already happened. While this stage can bring up intense emotions, it is actually serving an important purpose - it is helping us come to terms with our loss and adjust to a new reality.

    Though it may seem difficult, it is important to take the time to understand the bargain stage for what it is. We must be patient and allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling without judgement. This will help us accept our current situation and build a healthier outlook on life and our capacity to be resilient in the face of tragedies.

    It is also important to recognize when to seek professional help. Grief can be incredibly hard to manage alone and having the support of a mental health professional can be extremely beneficial. If you are struggling to cope with your emotions or take part in tasks of daily life, then it may be beneficial to reach out and seek help in navigating the bargaining stage.

    How Long Does the Bargaining Stage Last?

    The bargaining stage of grief can vary greatly in how long it lasts. It is a normal part of the grief process, and its duration depends on the individual. Some people may spend only a few days going through the bargaining stage while others could take weeks or months to come to terms with their loss and move on.

    It is important to understand that bargaining is a natural process, one that can lead to healing and resolution. Many who have successfully moved through the process of grief noted that it's essential to accept the circumstances of a loved one’s death and not be too hard on oneself during this time.

    People cope with grief differently, therefore it is difficult to set a timeline for the bargaining stage. It is important to take care of yourself during this time and be patient with your process. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up without judgment and know that it will eventually end.

    No one should rush the grieving process. Passing through each of the stages of grief can help someone fully come to terms with their loss and move forward. Therefore, it is important to recognize your feelings, have patience, and find appropriate ways to cope with your emotions.

    Practical Ways to Cope with Bargaining in Grief

    Grief can be incredibly overwhelming and painful, so it’s important to have some practical ways to cope with it while going through the bargaining stage. Coping with grief is different for everyone, but there are a few common methods that can be beneficial for those going through the bargaining stage.

    Firstly, it’s important to make sure you have a strong support system. Whether this includes friends, family, clergy members, or therapists, talking to others who have gone through similar experiences can be an invaluable source of comfort and advice. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from those around you.

    Secondly, it can be helpful to find outlets for self expression. Writing down thoughts and feelings in a journal can be a great way to process emotions and document the journey through the grieving process. Additionally, participating in hobbies or activities like painting, yoga, or gardening can be a great way to distract the mind and express the emotions one is feeling.

    Thirdly, making use of online resources can provide a wealth of advice and information on dealing with grief. Online communities, websites, and forums related to grief can provide a safe place to talk to others who have gone through similar experiences, in addition to providing access to information related to grief counseling, psychological services, and books. Additionally, there are many online resources devoted to providing advice and information on how to cope during the bargaining stage of grief.

    Finally, it can be beneficial to remember that mourning is a normal part of the healing process, and everyone experiences grief and mourning differently. It’s important to be patient with oneself and accept that mourning takes time and requires patience. Allowing yourself to take needed time and space for mourning while remaining open to the possibility of growth and healing can aid in the grieving process.

    Online Resources to Help with Bargaining in Grief

    Many people feel overwhelmed and isolated while they are going through the bargaining stage of grief. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of online resources available that can help support someone who is in this stage. These resources offer guidance, advice and access to professionals who have experience and expertise dealing with the grieving process.

    Online forums are a great source of advice for those who are bargaining in grief. People on these forums can share their stories, seek advice from others and provide comfort and support to one another. This is a great way to connect with people who have gone through a similar experience and can give valuable insight into how to best cope with the situation.

    Reading material is also an excellent way to learn more about the bargaining stage and how others have navigated this difficult time. Websites such as Grief.com offer a range of articles and blogs about grief and bereavement, as well as practical tips on how to cope. There are also books available, such as ‘The Understanding of Grief’ by M.D. Alan D. Wolfelt, which provides further insight into bargaining in grief.

    In addition to these resources, there are a variety of online courses available that can help someone who is bargaining in grief. These classes cover topics such as how to cope with the loss of a loved one, understanding the grief process and finding helpful coping strategies. Some of these courses are free and can be taken at one’s own pace.

    Finally, professional counselling and therapy services are also available online. Professional counsellors and therapists can provide guidance, support and advice for those who are struggling with the bargaining process. This is an especially helpful option for those who don’t feel comfortable talking to family or friends about their grief, or who need additional support during this difficult time.

    In summary, there are many online resources available to those who are bargaining in grief. From online forums and reading material to courses and professional counselling services, these resources can provide much-needed comfort, advice and support during this difficult phase of the grieving process.

    Differentiating Between Mourning and Bargaining in Grief

    Mourning and bargaining can both be found in the stages of grief. While they may seem similar, they have different underlying implications between them. Mourning involves expressing feelings and emotions of deep sadness and anguish in response to a loss or difficult life event. This process is often seen as an important step in the healing process and can involve seeking support from friends and family. Bargaining, on the other hand, is a process where people become preoccupied with “what ifs” and “if onlys.” It is common behavior in reaction to a traumatic event and can include making agreements or promises with an invisible entity in hope to undo or reverse the event.

    People who are bargaining may attempt to fill their minds with thoughts of how the event could have happened differently, or what they could do to prevent it from happening again. The bargaining process can take longer than mourning because someone typically does not want to accept the reality of the situation or event and is desperately trying to find a way to make sense of it. Bargaining in grief is seen as a way to cope with the pain and alleviate some of the distress associated with the loss.


    Bargaining is an important part of the grieving process. It is a way to try and make sense of the loss and move forward in life. There are various religious and cultural approaches to bargaining that can be beneficial in understanding how to cope with the situation. Grief counsellors and psychologists view bargaining as an important stage to go through to eventually heal. It is important to keep in mind that the bargaining stage does not last forever and that it is important to be patient and understanding of the process. There are also practical ways to cope with the situation such as talking to friends and family, seeking professional help and utilizing online resources. Furthermore, it is crucial to differentiate between mourning and bargaining in order to make sure one is moving forward and not stagnating. In conclusion, it is important to remember that we all grieve and cope differently, but by understanding what bargaining is and what it means for the individual, it can help to work through the stages of grief successfully.

    Additional resources to learn more about bargaining in the stages of grief include:

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