Grief and Bargaining 

Initially I thought bargaining was a stage that I either hadn’t experienced and probably wouldn’t.  Grief is different for everyone.  It is possible to skip a stage.  One can also cycle back to earlier stages.

I considered bargaining as quid pro quo from a spiritual standpoint, “Give me this and I’ll do that.”  While researching the Stages of Grief (Kubler-Ross), I found the Changing Minds website.  They summed up bargaining as seeking a way out of the situation.

It continues with  an in depth definition:

After the fires of anger have been blow out, the next stage is a desperate round of bargaining, seeking ways to avoid having the bad thing happen. Bargaining is thus a vain expression of hope that the bad news is reversible.

Bargaining in illness includes seeking alternative therapies and experimental drugs. In organizations, it includes offering to work for less money (or even none!), offering to do alternative work or be demoted down the hierarchy. One’s loyalties, debts and dependants may be paraded as evidence of the essentiality of being saved.

I actually experienced bargaining and denial at the same time; the behaviors and thoughts overlapped.  I kept working at reduced duties and kept trying to move to harder work before I was ready.  (denial/ bargaining) I was convinced if I just worked hard enough I would heal fully in time to deploy with my unit. I’d be an outstanding Social Worker and therapist, making a huge positive impact (bargaining). When it became clear that I wouldn’t meet that timeline, the goal  became deploying with another unit later.  I sought after every damn therapy under the face of the earth for years. I kept pushing. When all this failed, I fell into anger and depression.

While proofreading this entry, I realized that I did bargain with the Deity in a slightly different form. There was a lot of pleading for healing so I could return to my career.   I still ask for this.  I can use what happened to me to help others with a greater level of understanding and skill. Grieving can be subtle.

Expanded Stages of Grief

  1. Stability
  2. Immobilization
  3. Shock
  4. Denial
  5. Anger
  6. Bargaining
  7.  Depression
  8. Testing
  9. Acceptance

I’ll explore the rest of the expanded grief cycle during future posts.
Grief hurts but it’s the only way to find the “new normal” (acceptance).

Pondering Faith

Today was grocery shopping.  I listened to the liberal talk radio station on XM.  The topic under discussion was the impact of conservative beliefs on the current bid for Republican nomination for presidential candidacy.   Recently, the United States is moving to a more conservative standpoint.  For example, the debate about whether or not birth control should be required to be covered on employer’s health care plans.  I do not recall the specific comments, but the discussion started me thinking about religion and spirituality and what their roles are in life.

It seems the representation of Christianity in the media focuses on the beliefs and actions of the very conservative believers.  Often, there is a scandal associated with their comments or actions.  This is not an accurate portrayal of the entire Christian community.  Sadly, the actions of the right-wing gives Christianity a bad reputation.  Fair or not, religions are judged by the actions of the believers.  This is also reflected in the view of Islam.  To many people, Islam is a religion of violent fanatics.  Yet, the majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

Spirituality and faith are about much more than religions.  Spirituality is the connection with Deity/ Deities.  It is highly individual.  Spirituality is reflected in the actions and choices of the individual.   Faith is belief.  Religion contains the rules, dogma, and belief of a specific faith.  Religion should be a tool to build a deeper sense of spirituality.


Healthy spiritual and religious practices should help the believer to develop into a better person.  The beliefs of a person should impact their actions.  Healthy spirituality leads to a sense of balance and peace.  The individual grows more compassionate, more loving, and understanding.  It is not based in fear of Hell or a vengeful God.  Fear leads to anger and judgemental behavior.  Spirituality that is healthy is based in love.   Spirituality and religious practice should impact the world in a positive manner.   Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what religion a person chooses to practice.  What matters is the impact it has on the person, the community, and world.