Feeling and expressing grief is unique to each individual and it depends on the nature of their loss. People experience all kinds of emotions, pain and sadness that are considered normal reactions to a significant loss. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the grief (helpguide.org). Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Psychiatrist invented the “five stages of grief”, based on the grieving process when negative life changes and loses happen, such as death of a loved one. The five stages of grief according to Kubler-Ross are responses that many people may go through, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss and everyone grieves differently (helpguide.org).
The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The story of Job in the Bible is an example that displays all the stages of grief set forth by Kubler-Ross’s grief model. Job was a Christian man who followed the path of God’s will in His life. Kubler-Ross was not a Christian, and formulated the grief model from observing patients in a hospital who were dying from terminal illness. Job suffered great loss in his life and endured different stages in his grieving process but never denounced God. The five stages of grief compared and contrasted with the life of Job Denial
The first response of grief according to Kubler-Ross is denial and isolation. This is a stage of shock and numbness and a time when a grieving person is trying to grasp the situation that something tragic has just happened in their life. Job is grieving at his tremendous loss., he lost his children, his wealth and health. It seemed unreal to Job that he tore his clothes, shaved his head and fell on the ground. Job 1: 21 reads “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord “(The Christian Life Bible). Job mourned and lamented at his loss but did not reject God. In contrast to the grief model where the patients knew they were going to die, Job even in his loss knew that he had life. Job maintained total submission to God’s plan in his life. The things of this world can become overwhelming and meaningless to those who are grieving a great loss but knowing God can help to overcome all difficulties of life.
Anger is the second stage of grief. According to Kubler-Ross when a patient can no longer maintain the denial stage, they enter into the stage of anger, rage and resentment and start questioning everyone and everything (Roy,A.). Job cursed the day he was born. Job3:16 illustrate his frustration and he felt that death would be easier to endure than his grief. Job is angry and felt betrayed by God. Job’s anger becomes obvious and can be seen in Job 7:11-15. According to Kubler- Ross, anger is a defense used against the primary feelings of hopelessness and helplessness (grief.com). Job is defending himself by showing his anger to ease his pain of loss. But even in his anger, Job maintains communication with God. The feeling of anger may be towards anyone, may be a person who didn’t attend the funeral, doctors, other family members, loved one who have passed (grief.com). It is natural to feel pain and deserted in this stage and finds it hard to accept the loss.
In this stage, feeling of guilt is common and trying to blame it on ourselves and questioning selves for things that could have been done different to prevent the loss. A grieving person may bargain or try to negotiate a compromise to ease their pain and try to do anything to not feel the pain of loss. For example, a Hindu friend of mine once wrote a letter to Billy Graham indicating to heal her dying mother from cancer and if the mother lives then she will convert to Christianity. That was a bargain and it did not work.
Job is bargaining with God in chapter 13:20-21,” Only two things do not do to me, and then I will not hide myself from You. Withdraw your Hand far from me. And let not the dread of you make me afraid” (The Christian Life Bible). For Job, blaming God and everyone seemed natural due to the fear of taking responsibility for what has happened (faiththerapy.org). Job wants to put an end to his suffering, but instead he bowed down in humility and trusting more in God. Job did not listen to his wife’s plea to curse God and to die, but he remained in submission to God’s plan in his life.
According to Kubler-Ross, grief becomes deeper in this stage and feelings of emptiness and intense sadness and loss of hope invades life. When bargaining does not help, the reality of depression sets in. This is a noticeable stage as people are down and uncertain about their future. The loss of a loved one is heart breaking and a stage of depression is considered normal and appropriate in a healthy grieving process by Kubler-Ross (grief.com). It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality. Job 7:6 reads,” My days are swifter than a waver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.” (The Christian Life Bible). Job is facing sadness about the situation that he is facing which is not under his control. Even though Job was depressed he never ran from God’s presence. Job 42:5-6 reads “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (The Christian Life Bible).
During this stage according to Kubler-Ross, the person has accepted the reality of the loss of their loved ones and realizes that fighting is not going to make any difference. The loved one is no more physically present and that it is a permanent loss. Past is gone and a new future is set in front to run the race in the absence of the loved one. Job is also finally accepting the fact of his total loss and tries to resolve and come into a trusting relationship with God. In chapter 38 of Job, it displays the fact that Job finally heard from God again. This is an essential step in the grief process to restore relationships and to come in terms with life and meaning to move on with life. Through acceptance, God blessed Job again with more blessings than before and ultimately he regains his strength back. Job 42:10 reads” And the Lord restored Job’s loses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”(The Christian Life Bible).
From the grief model of Kubler-Ross and the story of Job from the Bible it is clear that grief is a natural process that everyone endures at some point of their life. From the theory of Kubler –Ross, the author points out that a person may or may not go through all the stages during a grieving process and the duration may not be the same and will depend on how one handles grief in their life. The component of faith is not central to Kubler-Ross’s grieving process. Job responds to his grieving situations as a normal person would respond but his tremendous faith in God enables him to overcome all obstacles and regain his joy in life. His faith alone in God carried him through such devastating times.
This understanding can become a tremendous source of strength when we find ourselves facing the unthinkable. Job was a man of great integrity who loved the Lord deeply and his faith was genuine, personal and deep. Grieving is a personal experience and how a person grieves depends on their coping style, faith and the nature of loss. It is important to take care of the physical and emotional needs during a grieving process. Unresolved grief can lead to serious consequences in life that can create health problems such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse (helpguide.org). The grieving process takes time and healing happens gradually. Whatever grief a person experiences, it is important to be patient and allow the process to unfold naturally and not to be forced or hurried.
Biblical Answers for Grief. Faith Therapy. Retrieved from
Coping with Grief and Loss. Understanding the Grieving Process. Retrieved from
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Roy, A. (1991). The Book of Job: A Grief and Human Development Interpretation.
Journal of Religion and Health, 30(2). Retrieved from
The Five Stages of Grief. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler. Retrieved from
The Christian Life Bible (1998). Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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