Life Cycle and Grief Psychological Models

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Everyone will endure loss and painful situations

Everyone will endure loss and painful situations at some point in their lives. These experiences have the potential to shift people from their expected life paths. Grief, loss, and bereavement are virtually inextricably linked emotions that accompany the death of a friend, relative, or loved one. Many psychological theories have been created on these topics, each from a different standpoint but eventually converging. Many psychological formulations and methods of coping with grief have been developed over the years. In this work, I will reflect on psychological models related to death, grieving, loss, and bereavement, as well as coping and the stages of grief. I will also illustrate how contemporary and historical models compare and show how I will have benefited from this information.

Freud's model of bereavement

One of the psychological theories concerning death, bereavement, coping, and stages of grief is Freud's model of bereavement. The emphasis of this theory is on the personal attachment for which those individuals under loss are searching (Freud, 1961). According to Freud, mourning for a lost life is the detachment from the dead. He goes ahead to defining mourning as a state of melancholia. This implies that melancholia escalates when mourning goes wrong. Individuals lose their identity following the death of a loved one. According to Freud (1961), when the living accepts the loss, the ego accommodates the loss. As such, it goes on to search for new attachments and forgets the lost one.

Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle

Another psychological model on the same is Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle. This model helps us understand our own as well as other people's emotional reaction to grief irrespective of the cause. According to this model, grief is not a linear process but considered fluid. For this reason, most people progress through its stages in a disorderly manner. Kubler-Ross five stages of the grief cycle include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Kübler-Ross, 2002). The stage of denial involves an unconscious or conscious denial of the fact that a situation has happened. The stage of anger is the disappointment directed to the loss of a loved one. The last stage of acceptance is the most important where the grieving individual accepts and develops emotional detachment from the dead thereby coming to terms with the loss. As a result, the bereaved individuals develop mechanisms of moving on with life (Kübler-Ross, 2002).

Bowlby's attachment theory

The other psychological model is Bowlby's attachment theory. According to this model, attachments develop early in life (Bowlby, 1969). These attachments warrant survival and security to the individual. Individuals experience distress, loss, grief or emotional disturbance when these attachments are lost or broken. To express these emotions, individuals mourn. This model suggests that there are four stages of mourning namely; numbing, yearning and searching, disorganization and reorganization (Bowlby, 2004).

Historical and contemporary models of grief, loss, and mourning

Historical and contemporary models of grief, loss, and mourning compare in a number of aspects. In both models, mourning has been believed to bring about similar effects. These include re-learning the world, regaining equilibrium, developing new norms and reconstructing the meaning of life. According to Blanco and Vidal (2015), both historical and contemporary models treat mourning as a detachment of the survivors from the dead. Over the years, taking care of the bereaved and the dying has been the role of the family and the community at large. In traditional times, bereaved families always received support and comfort from those that knew the deceased. In this way, they share the loss together. In both models, healthy mourning results in acceptance of the loss (Wilson, 2014).

Learning and personal reflection

From these SLOs, I have learned a lot about my own feelings, beliefs, and attitudes toward death and bereavement. I have learned to re-experience and relive my feelings realistically. I have learned ways to adapt to the new world in which the bereaved families find themselves. A very crucial aspect that I have learned about my own feelings, beliefs, and attitudes toward death and bereavement is making a "multi-faceted transition from loving in presence to loving in absence." I have also learned that the central process of grief involves meaning reconstruction in response to a loss. In addition, I have learned that grief should not be overwhelming for me and the loss of a loved one is a universal experience.


Blanco, M.-J., & Vidal, R. (2015). The Power of Death: Contemporary Reflections on Death in

Western Society. New York: Berghahn.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and Loss. New York: Basic Books.

Bowlby, J. (2004). Attachment and loss: Anxiety and anger. London: Pimlico.

Wilson, J. (2014). Working with Bereavement: A Practical Guide. Houndmills, Basingstoke,

Hampshire ; New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan.

Freud, S. (1961) Mourning and Melancholia. In Strachy J (Ed) The Complete Psychological

Works. Standard edition, Hogarth Press.

Kübler-Ross, E. (2002). On death and dying ; Questions and Answers on Death and Dying ; On

Life after Death. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club.

April 26, 2023

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