The Kübler-Ross model is a series of emotional stages experienced by those who are experiencing the death of a loved one. the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The stages, are popularly known as the acronym DABDA.
- Stage 1- Denial:
In this step the person believes the death is a mistake, and they cling to a false reality.
- Stage 2 – Anger:
When the person recognizes that denial cant continue, they become frustrated. Some common psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase are: “Why me? It’s not fair!” or “How can this happen to me?”
- Stage 3 – Bargaining:
This third stage is hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a changed lifestyle. A common example is a phrase along the lines of this; “Please god, I’ll be perfect person if you bring my mother back.”
- Stage 4 – Depression:
This step is pretty self-explanatory. A common phrase is “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” or possibly “I’m going to die soon, so what’s the point?” During this fourth stage, the person becomes saddened by the probability of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful.
- Stage 5 – Acceptance:
Some common phrases are “It’s going to be okay.” Or “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.” In this last stage, the individual embraces mortality of themselves or that of a loved one.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, is a book about a Spokane Indian boy named Junior. Junior is a cartoonist, born with many medical problems. He attends a white school and is having issues fitting in. Throughout the book Junior has to deal with many instances of the death of loved ones. Through the book Junior has to deal with the death of his grandmother, his sister, and his dad’s best friend Eugene. The stages don’t occur all with one death, but rather each stage seems to build up with each death.
The first death shown in the book is the death of his grandmother. Junior had loved his grandmother because she wasn’t another drunk all the time Indian. She had tolerance and kept living life like Indians used to. Junior seems to skip the Denial phase, but this may be because of how many deaths he has witnessed before, and he has learned to accept it past the denial phase. But he does seem to get angry. He states that he would have gone and beat up the drunk driver who had killed his grandmother. With this death. He seemed to skip the bargaining phase with this stage aswell. He knows why and how, and he decides not to try and reason with the unreasonable. He was, of course depressed for a short time with this death. He mourned his grandmother, as all others would. He easily accepted her death, knowing she had moved happily on to the afterlife, and that she was at peace.
The second death Junior dealt with in the book was his dad’s best friend Eugene. In this death Junior seems to completely throw the Kübler-Ross model out the window. He goes from Sad and helpless to angry in a few sentences. He continued to be Angry, and joyless, but he slowly comes to acceptance.
The third death Junior has to witness in the book is his sister’s. He clearly shows denial with this statement from the book
I know she’s gone, she lives in Montana now’ I knew I was being an idiot, but I figured if I kept being an idiot, If I didn’t actually accept the truth, then the truth would become false
He then started arguing with the counselor and then ran away from her, he was obviously angry at this point. Junior’s bargaining in this death wasn’t for his sister, but for his dad, who he had feared died on the way to pick him up. He was happy to see his father, his depression was almost reversed. He laughed a lot and was just so happy his father was alive. Then he went to anger for a bit when he learned of how she died. Then back to his reverse depression and laughing. He then became angry again, blaming the death on himself. He said that because he left for a white school, that his sister decided to move to Montana, and that got her killed.
Despite the fact that Junior didn’t always experience every stage in order with every death, he did experience incredible resemblances to the model. At some point throughout these 3 deaths, Junior experienced denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. And Junior was strong through all of it.