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5 Stages of Grief During Kidney Failure

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

Adverse changes in health are considered to be life-changing events.

If someone you love or care for has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, it’s important to understand that this is considered a major life-changing event. When these life changes occur, it is completely normal for the affected party to grieve their existing life. We call this the five stages of grief.

Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed the five stages of grief model after studying people with terminal illnesses who were facing death. Even though her study was based on people who were terminally ill, her model is commonly referenced when dealing with grief in general.

Kübler-Ross presents the five stages as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

How Grief Presents in Real Life

If you know someone with a chronic illness that’s in denial and won’t seek treatment, understand that this behavior is completely normal. If the person is promising to make changes so that they can have a second chance, pray for them and give your love and support. If they then fall into a deep dark depression, show empathy. And if they ever reach acceptance, ask them if they need help navigating the next steps. It’s important to understand that these behaviors may not occur in this exact order and they could even repeat themselves several times before reaching the acceptance level. There is also a possibility that the chronically ill person may never accept their fate. That is normal.

How to Show your Support

Chronically ill individuals may have varying emotions and feelings including anger or sadness. The best thing that you can do to support them is avoid mirroring their emotions or feelings back at them. Understand that they are grieving. The most important thing that you can offer them is empathy and compassion. Now is not the time to fall back.


This page contains general medical information. Medical knowledge and practice can change rapidly. Therefore, this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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