Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who died in 2004 was a Swiss-American psychiatrist and a pioneer in near-death studies. She was the author of a pioneering book, On Death and Dying where she first developed her theory of the five stages of grief. Known as the Kübler-Ross model it’s a series of emotional stages experienced when faced with impending death. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, or DABDA.
Denial is a gut-level response to shut out the reality of the situation. Anger can be summed up by, “Why me? It’s not fair!” Bargaining is when one agrees to trade-off something valuable for an extension, such as, “I’d do anything for a few more years,” and negotiates with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Depression is when a person begins to experience the certainty of extinction and loses all interest in everything. And finally there’s acceptance; and people come to terms with their mortality.
DABDA has come in for some strong criticism from other psychiatrists who maintain it’s a very western oriented model and that it doesn’t take into consideration the cultural relevance of the person concerned. Different cultures for instance have different approaches to death which are not necessarily like the EuroAmerican approach.
Besides the cultural context there’s also another dimension the model misses out on — the spiritual atheist dimension. People with a true belief in this calling have long ago gone through the first four stages and now live a life of acceptance till the end of their days.