The most familiar model of how people react to their own dying is the 5-stage model proposed in 1969 by psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying. The basis of her model was a series of interviews she conducted in her attempt to determine how people react to their own imminent death.  From their responses, she developed a list of five predominant “defense mechanisms” these people used to face the stress of their situation.

Dr. Kübler-Ross’s five stages (also known as DABDA) and how they are typically expressed are:

While Dr. Kübler-Ross’s book and model helped bring the issues related to death and dying out into the open, both public and professional, and she highlighted the importance of “unfinished business,” there are some serious flaws with her model, many of which are the same ones associated with using stages and phases as a model for mourning.

For these reasons, I do not use a stage-based approach to describe coping with dying.  I prefer the more active, individualistic task-based model.