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

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

4. Guilt about Illness

  • Guilt To Anger To Denial To Guilt
  • A Prayer of Surrender
  • A Definition of Repent - To Think Again

This article on the 7 stages of grief in chronic illness is NOW included in a FREE ebook.
The book includes additional information which helps you to be gentle with yourself in a time of illness.

The link above and the cover below take you to visit my healing website where you can collect your FREE copy of the book.

The 7 Stages of Grief: 3


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, it is harder for you to take steps to look after yourself because you are pretending there is no need. 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 an unhelpful loop: 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,
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.

What do I need to know right now?
Speak to my mind and heart.
Guide me to a place of peace.

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.


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.

Move to the homepage - How To Deepen Our Spirituality

If you enjoyed this page, please click to share it with others.

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Receive daily inspiration...

Receive daily inspiration by putting
your favorite (favourite) quote on
an item you see daily around your home-
a mug, cushion, postcard, coaster, T shirt etc.
You will find my zazzle gift store at (USA)

Use one of my designs or start from a blank. (UK)

Thank you so much for supporting this website

Advert for personalised gifts with a spiritual or healing theme

My name is Katherine Owen.
Please respect my copyright as the author of this website.
I am delighted if you choose to share on social media, but please do NOT reproduce any of the contents of this page without permission.
© Katherine T Owen

Buy How to Survive the Loss of a Love from your local amazon store

"How To Survive... A beautifully simple and 
powerful book. It is about losing a relationship, yet much of the advice applies also to grieving loss of health. It alternates poems and advice. For me, it was the closest thing to having a friend sit with me and allow me to feel." - Katherine

webmaster at

Free forgiveness ebook

To receive
Releasing Judgment,
a FREE ebook

or to keep in touch...

Please be assured - I will NOT pass on your e-mail address to anyone else.

Be Loved

15 Spiritual Love Poems
God Love Self Love

(by the author of

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

Katherine's small beautiful collection of poems take the reader with her as she journeys to know both self love and
God's love.

Be Loved Beloved. Cover for Kindle book of spiritual love poems.

If you don't have a kindle, you can download FREE software to read the kindle book on your computer.

Buy the paperback on Lulu

Click to preview or BUY
Be Loved Beloved

"One thing that struck me was the stripping of ego in the work. Most of us have a comfy ego façade, but weakness and disease tore Katherine’s away. The poems in Be Loved Beloved come from the heart."

Dana Taylor, Author of Ever-Flowing Streams: Tapping into Healing Energy

What's New?

  1. Prayer for Housing –need a home, accommodation, or to feel at home?

    new home bible verse card zazzle
    Prayer for Housing. An accommodation need? Not at home with your feelings or thoughts? Includes prayer for Ukranian refugees and those w chronic illness.

    Read More

  2. Prayer For Peace Of Mind - Psalm 91 to ease negative thoughts

    Do you suffer with negative thoughts? I used Psalm 91 as a prayer for peace of mind. I give an explanation and interpretation of its meaning and link to other non biblical prayers for inner peace.

    Read More