Workers’ Comp And The Five(ish) Stages Of Grief

The Five Stages of Grief are based on a theory developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross that suggests people go through five distinct stages of grief after the loss of a loved one. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually, acceptance.

While the theory was based around the loss of someone close to you, it has been posited that workers injured on the job may also go through a similar process after a serious accident.

There are certainly strong parallels in the comparison. Consider these stages both for the loss of a loved one and a serious injury that leaves someone with an impairment.

Denial is an attempt to understand the loss, while often initially refusing to believe it is possible. Anger follows shortly behind, when reality has set in, and a person may realize that their life has been significantly changed by the loss, but they refuse to accept the outcome.

Bargaining often is directed to a higher power and includes a commitment or promise in exchange for relief of suffering. Depression can set in when, after the denial, anger, and unrequited bargains, the reality of the permanency of loss sets in. Acceptance is when a person realizes that life has indeed changed, and they stop struggling to reverse or undo the event.

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