The 7 Stages of Grief:
Bargaining And Guilt

Continues from previous page: The 7 Stages of Grief: Anger

Contents for this article on Bargaining and Illness, Guilt and Illness...

3. Bargaining Illness

    Includes:
  • Definition of Bargaining
  • A Poem About Bargaining With Illness
  • Bargaining Gives You A Useful Temporary Sense Of Control


4. Guilt about Illness

    Includes:

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The 7 Stages of Grief: 3

Bargaining

Definition of Bargaining re: The Stages of Grief

What is Bargaining?

Bargaining is when we say.
“This illness is my fault.”
Then we say we will do things differently to make the illness go away.

Or perhaps we say:
“I would do things differently if I had the chance again. Give me another chance.

Sometimes we ask:
“Is illness a punishment from God?”
We bargain with God:
“I will be a better person from now on, if only the illness will go away.

“If only…” and “What if…” statements can be a part of this one of the stages of grief.

A Poem About Illness


Bargaining Gives You A Useful Temporary Sense Of Control

This one of the 7 stages of grief gives you a sense of control. If there is something you did wrong, then there is hope you can learn a new way and recover.

It can be very healthy to have a sense of control when your body tells you you have little or no control.

Often though, bargaining leads you to blame yourself for things that you didn't do wrong.
Even if you did – there may be nothing you can do about it now, so the feeling of guilt is not useful.
And just because you did something wrong doesn't mean it is why you are now ill.

Finding something unhealthy you are doing and correcting it is a wonderful approach. But bargaining can lead to guilt and to setting yourself up for failure.

The Difference between Bargaining and a Turning Point

A characteristic of bargaining is that although you say you will do something– learn to rest, have a good diet, etc, you don't keep your resolutions for long.

The moment you feel better you go back to your old ways.
Bargaining is a stage where we haven't yet made a deep commitment to change. Often part of us wants change but a part of us just wants to stay the same way.

With bargaining, you are trying to do things in your own strength: I will be a better person.

Even if you have identified something that you would benefit from changing in yourself, the truth is, you didn't know how to do things differently, or you would have done so.

You are already having a difficult time, and now you feel guilty, without knowing what else to do. You are not being kind to yourself.

Turning Point

When you come from a place of spiritual acceptance, your words may be similar to those of bargaining, but the feeling is a very different one:

You are less likely to feel God is punishing you.
You are more likely to feel God is guiding you.
Or else, that He has not been guiding you because you have not been giving Him/Her the chance.

The singer Cat Stevens was drowning and promised God that if he survived he would seek to know Him. He survived and kept his promise.

The qigong master, Tristan Truscott was suffering chronic back pain which stopped his career in martial arts and led him to pay $90 000 for an unsuccessful back surgery. He sent up a prayer that if he recovered he would pay it forward. He recovered, is back to practising qigong and has kept his promise.

The 7 Stages of Grief: 4

Guilt about Illness

We Can Switch From Guilt To Anger To Denial To Guilt

You may switch between different stages of grief:

    You may feel profound guilt about illness as you decide that if you had done something else you wouldn’t be ill now.

    You may be clear that you have done nothing wrong, but still feel guilty about illness - the feeling that you should somehow know how to make it stop.

    Guilt can lead to the need to find someone else to blame which leads to anger.

    And when the guilt and anger are too painful you retreat into denial.

    From a place of denial, you cannot take steps to look after yourself because you are pretending there is no need, and when you realise you haven’t looked after yourself yet again, you feel guilt.

In this way you switch between the 7 stages of grief in a vicious circle: guilt to anger to denial and back to guilt.



How Do You Move From Bargaining To Acceptance, And From Guilt To Humility?

We can practice spiritual acceptance of illness by saying a prayer of surrender.

Spiritual Acceptance of Illness:
Prayer of Surrender and Repentance


Dear God,
What do I need to know right now?

I am in an ill body.
This is not what I want.
This does not testify to a powerful and abundant Source of Life.

I don't know how to change this.

Help me God.
Speak to my mind and heart.
Guide me to a place of peace.

I have done things my own way, and it has brought me here.
I don't want to do things my own way any more.
Your way brings me greater joy.

How can I serve You?
I open my heart to receive Your Love.

Thank you that you are greater than this illness.
Thank you that you bring peace and healing everywhere where you are invited.
Thank you.

Amen.

Instead of bargaining, you can repent.

Instead of guilt which makes you feel heavy, you can feel humility.

You need help to move through the 7 stages of grief. You need help to live with illness. This is OK. It is OK to need help.

A Definition Of Repent

A definition of repent:

Repent means “to think again”.
Re = again.
Pent, from the same root as the French word penser = to think

You can think again by choosing to ask for help.
Help is here. At your request, God guides you forward.

Yes, you don't know what to do.
Yes, you are powerless over your current situation.

But this is OK.
You have no reason to fear: you are being guided by a wisdom beyond your own.


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© Katherine T Owen

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God Love Self Love

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For 14 years, Katherine T Owen was severely disabled with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, unable to walk, with little speech, and with inadequate care.

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