Today we are going to talk about the bargaining aspect of grieving. When I first learned about the grieving process, I couldn’t understand why bargaining was included in the grief cycle. What do you think of when you think of bargaining?
I think of trying to get the best deal for my money, open-air markets in Kenya where nothing has a “fixed” price, and giving a little here in order to get a little there. When we move into bargaining as part of our grieving process, however, the deal is already done. We’ve gotten the bad end of the bargain, and we are trying our best to make it a better deal somehow.
If we are grieving the loss of a terminally ill loved-one, for instance, we might ask God to give them a few more years in exchange for an equal amount of our fully devoted service. Perhaps we’ve been fired or laid off from a job we enjoyed. We might try to talk to our supervisor or employer in an effort to get our job back—making promises of renewed effort or taking a cut in pay or vacation time. Maybe we’ve just been diagnosed with a disease like diabetes, so we start exercising fiendishly and eating right in an effort to prove the doctor wrong. All of these are examples of bargaining with grief. We realize that something painful has happened that we cannot ignore or deny, so we try to find a way to minimize the pain.
–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One