Bargaining: The Third Stage of Grief


As stated in last week’s blog dealing with anger (click here to read), grieving can be for any traumatic issue like sexual abuse, domestic turmoil, divorce, or racial injustice–well, look at the news headlines–you can plummet into mourning.

What bears repeating is: 1. Grief does not follow a timeline. You may be struggling for a year. You may find new joy in a month. Neither is wrong.

2. The five stages of grief will be cyclical. You may have reached acceptance and suddenly cycled back to anger.

3. Take one day at a time

#4 Most Important: Lean on God. Remember the following:

God loves and cares for you. Matthew 10: 29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Grief is a season, not a permanent state. Ecclesiastes 3: 4 says there is “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

In review: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross conceptualized the process of grief. She named five steps or stages.

Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief
  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance








Can Look Like                                                                                                                                 Can Feel Like

ruminating on the future or past guilt
over-thinking and worrying shame
comparing self to others blame
predicting the future and assuming the worst fear, anxiety
perfectionism insecurity
thinking/saying, “I should have…” or ”If only…”
judgment toward self and/or others

(Chart borrowed from Washington State University. click here to read.

Of course, this isn’t to say, in my case of multiple deaths, “I’ll make a deal, God.” However, there is an element of “I should have …” The night before my mother died, I nestled beside her in bed for maybe five minutes. When I got up, she raised her arm, then fell back asleep. The next morning she died. I blamed myself/felt guilty that I didn’t linger, that I didn’t hold her all night.

What about you? Abuse–do you get anxious and say, “God, I will__if you will__.”

The same applies to all forms of grief–a failed marriage, an addicted child, discrimination. “God, I will__if you will__”

The main cure is the same as last week: Jesus. One day at a time. Jesus. Grace. Jesus.

Remember as King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes: 4 says there is “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

And Jesus will turn your mourning into dancing.

Get help–a counsellor, a pastor, a doctor. Medication and therapy and prayer can help.

Don’t forget Borrowed Lives

Book three, Tangled Lives, comes out in July. You’ll want to read book one.

Meredith Jaynes, an artisan, cycles through the stages of grief and then she finds three girls abandoned by their parents. If she turns them over to CPS they’ll be separated. If she takes them? What the heck would she do with three waifs?

You’ll laugh, cry, and grow as you read this novel.







  1. Cleo Lampos says:

    Practical advice and inspiring stories for healing. Love your transparency.

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