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Sample Essay on Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief in relation to Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Lament for a Son

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Sample Essay on Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief in relation to Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Lament for a Son


            Death is one of the most tragic occurrences in the lives of human beings. It is said that there are three most important phases in the course of human life, that is, birth, marriage and death. Majority of people live to see their birth and marriage but death is unforeseen. Death is one of the most stinging experiences one can have throughout his or her life. Birth and marriage brings feelings of happiness and joy to a family and the community at large. The impact of death normally reverberates throughout the entire life of a person. This aims at discussing Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief with respect to the story told in Lament for a Son by Dr. Nicholas Wolterstoff. He particularly put down the book to give a voice to those who would lose their children or other loved family members in honour and grief.


            The five primary stages identified in Kubler-Ross five stages of grief namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Lament for Son, he receives a call on a Sunday afternoon to inform him that his son had died tragically while on a mountain climbing hike.


Denial is a state in which a person refuses to come to terms with the facts and reality at hand. It is most viewed as a mechanism of defence and the situation is regarded as perfectly natural. Sooner than later reality sets in as he is thrown into a state of denial of the terms. He wonders he prayed regularly for the Lord God to protect his son at all times and costs but he had eventually come to realize his fears. He prays for God to give him answers on why this had happened. He wonders how the death of his son could come so suddenly even before the death of the parents. He is further thrown into confusion and desolation and questions himself whether it is morally right to one’s children or it is the children who should bury their parents. The narrator is completely thrown into the abyss of denial since it is not easy to come to terms with the death of a person. He goes through the rough road of traumatic experiences as he is forced into the thoughts of maybe he had offered his son to somebody.


Anger refers to an emotional upset that is clearly manifested when people are angered by their own actions or actions of others. The narrator feels angry that he had may be failed his son. He particularly feels angry with himself and his family. He is motivated by the anger that his family may have neglected Eric. He is also angry that Eric had gone on a mountain climbing hike. Furthermore, Eric had been left behind by his friends in the school of life who had already married their wives and settled down. However, he comes to terms that Eric was doing a research thesis on modern architecture and this was part of his research.


            The narrator is thrown into a conversation with God. He takes refuge in the religion of the Supreme God to seek shelter in his the trying times of his tragedy – the death of his son, Eric. He believes that God is suffering hence we all suffer because of God. He vividly remembers that God sent his beloved son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the cross but Jesus Christ eventually resurrected.He prays to God that his children would be fatally ill with sickness in their deathbed where he could get a chance to say goodbye to them in a decent manner. He enters into a dialogue with God seeking answers as to why his prayers had gone unanswered that God should protect his children even in the times of worst adversity. God doesn’t answer his questions. Nevertheless, he comes to again and remembers that one should console himself or herself in the Gospel. One has to cope up with dire situations and since Jesus Christ, the son of God resurrected he hopes that come the Judgement Day, he would meet his son who is living in eternity.



            In the depression stage, the grieving person starts coming to a level of acceptance which is pegged with a degree of emotional attachment. The person then gradually begins to accept reality. The narrator remembers how he has cared for his son Eric for a long time. He a loved his son very much even in the worst of times. The family members also reciprocated the same level of affection towards Eric. However, death is a great leveller in our society and communities and has the capability of uniting people in the adversity of times.


            The acceptance state depicts that the individuals are emotionally connected and there is an element of objectivity in their relationship. The author finally comes to terms with the death of his son. He gathers his family members and gives them the news regarding the death of their son and brother, Eric. He also remembers that death is an irreversible occurrence within our communities.The narrator has to quickly come to terms with the current situation that he is in. It is common for one to feel sadness and regret and live in fear and uncertainty. The author flies across oceans to get the body of his son in Kufstein. He advises his family members to live happily as if Eric was alive and should for ever hold Eric in remembrance. He says it is important to express love in times of death. He prepares the liturgy to be used in Eric’s funeral. Eric is laid to rest and the narrator’ soul rests peacefully. Eric quickly vanishes from his day to day life and there are only memories left to share. He turns to reading books which will help him do away with the pain of the loss of his son, Eric. He quickly learns to live with his mistakes, regrets and pain.

  1. How does Wolterstorff find joy after his loss?

Dr.Wolterstorff finds joy after the loss of son Eric and he immediately rushes to fetch his body in Kufstein. He immediately comforts himself by the word of God in that come Judgement Day he will meet his son in heaven.


  1. What is the meaning and significance of death in light of the Christian narrative?

The significance of death in light is that one should seek the words of Wisdom from God in light, that is, God is always sought in light not in times of darkness. The narrator went to seek God’s guidance in moments of darkness, that is, when his son died from a mountain climbing incident. He however, learns that God should spy on in moments of light, that is, when there are good moments. One should not console in the Gospel.

  1. How does the hope of the resurrection play a role in comforting Wolterstorff?

Dr.Wolterstorff remembers of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus Christ resurrected from death. He hopes that his son now is living in eternity and that on Judgement Day he will meet him in heaven and apologize to him.


            In trying times such as death one has to quickly come to terms with the reality at hand and seek words of wisdom from the Lord in light and not in darkness. Death is a great equalizer in our communities. Therefore, one has to accept fear, sadness and uncertainty at times.











Bible, H. (1982). The New King James Version. The Open Bible, Expanded Edition.

Kübler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (2014). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief

through the five stages of loss. Simon and Schuster.

Wolterstorff, N. (1987). Lament for a Son. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.


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Sample Essay on Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief in relation to Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Lament for a Son

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