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Stage Three – Bargaining
The third and middle stage of grief that a person works through after experiencing a significant loss is bargaining. This period is difficult for most people as they have already gone through the immediate reactions of denial and anger but are still unable to accept what has happened. The stage of bargaining usually involves a series of promises that a grieving person will make that involves exchanging something to get their life back to normal. Sometimes, people engage in bargaining not for a return to normalcy but rather as a means to make the pain that they are experiencing come to an end.
The process of bargaining is an important one that allows people to work through their grief in a series of realizations that usually occur through their promises. Sometimes people will bargain with God, but if they are not religious, they may instead focus the bargaining on an interior level. Some things that people who are in the bargaining phase of grief may say include “I’ll do anything if I can just talk to them one more time” or “I’ll give up drinking if they will come back.” These deals are a person’s way of trying to regain control in their lives.
Dealing with Bargaining
If you are experiencing this stage of grief, you will find yourself making these promises at various times. It is important for you to know that it is okay to make these bargains.
You should not feel guilty about wanting to be able to regain control. Loss of control can completely disorient some people, and by making bargains that you can make happen, you feel like you are regaining some sort of hold on your life. In fact, bargaining can be an important process as you may find yourself using it as a tool to help you get through difficult parts of the day.
Those who are dealing with people in the bargaining part of the grieving process will probably not notice too many changes. This is because the bulk of the negotiating will happen on an interior level, and you are unlikely to hear many of these deals. However, if you do overhear any of these bargains then you should do your best to let them go by the wayside. This process of making deals is the grieving individuals’ way of coping with their loss, and it is often a very private affair. They are trying to find a way to deal with this new world that they have found themselves in, and by offering these trades and bargains, they are doing their best to regain some form of control in their lives. If you get involved and try to persuade them to stop bargaining then you are taking away part of their control, and they may lash out at you.
Helping Someone in the Bargaining Stage
One reason that bargaining is such an important step for the person going through the grieving process is that it is a transition point between the intense stages of anger and depression. This step is something of a cooling off point between these two extremes in which the person can try and focus their energy at something that makes them feel as if they still have a little control in their lives.