Seven Stages Of Grief
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Basic Information

Also known as the The Kübler-Ross grief cycle, there is a commonly held belief that anyone facing a tragedy goes through some number (usually quoted as 7, the number used by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross) of set stages or cycles between the initial shock and final acceptance.[1]

In their most common order, these 7 stages are:

  1. Shock
  2. Denial
  3. Anger
  4. Bargaining
  5. Depression
  6. Testing
  7. Acceptance


Although, sometimes, it's presented as a shorter cycle, such as:

  1. Guilt
  2. Anger
  3. Depression
  4. Acceptance


or the very common five-stage version:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Despair
  5. Acceptance



Game and Story Use

  • For a realistic game, rather than brushing off curses, the deaths of party members, the the end of the world as we know it, etc, characters will go through these stages, though not necessarily all of them, and not necessarily in that order. It's a useful characterization tool.
  • More cinematic games will either ignore this completely, or reserve it for NPCs. The PCs are heroes, after all.
  • Unless, of course, the PCs have something wrong with them that interferes with the usual grieving response - in an actual human this might be severe PTSD or an narcissistic disorder (for example), in a PC it's probably lazy roleplaying.
    • Non-human characters, on the other hand, may grieve differently…
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