20 Sep Baby Boomers Guide to Bargaining: Going Through the Third Stage of Grief
As a grieving baby boomer emerges from anger in the second stage of the grieving process, an interesting change occurs that can puzzle and bewilder those who are not familiar with typical grieving behavioral patterns.
The third stage of the grieving process can be featured by bargaining. This bargaining might take the form of being particularly attentive at church or for some baby boomer widows, it might entail a concentrated effort at dieting or babysitting the grandchildren or spring cleaning the house. It is all part of a pointless bargaining process.
The bargaining is a subconscious marshalling of weapons: if I do this, he will come back; if I achieve that, she might not be taken from me and I will wake up after this terrible nightmare. As the process of bargaining continues unsuccessfully, friends and family sometimes experience an uplifting of spirits as they witness an improvement over the angry second stage of grieving and tell themselves that the person is recovering.
The third stage might see baby boomer determinations come into the process as bad habits are addressed and broken after years of struggle. Chain smokers will sometimes have far better success at giving up their habit in the third stage of grieving, only to sink into addiction again in the depressing fourth stage.
It is all part of: ‘If I do this, I will be rewarded and it will all go away’. Of course death is final and when the grieving person faces up to the harsh reality of loss, the fourth stage of grieving must be conquered, which is depression.
During the third stage, gentle support is invaluable. Telling the grieving person that there is no point in trying to bargain for a reprieve is of no value. They are intelligent and of course know that the death of their partner cannot be reversed. The act of bargaining is psychological and an inevitable part of the process. Trying to limit the time spent in this process is unhelpful and probably unproductive. Support is better and more valuable than discussion.
Sometimes during stage three, people actually resort to dating again. It is part of trying to replace the person who is gone and usually goes horribly wrong. The ‘other interested party’ can be deeply hurt when the grieving person turns away in frustration as he (or she) is seeking their lost love in a strange ritual of ‘find and replace…’
The grieving process can continue for a few weeks or sometimes might continue for years. As each stage is lived through, grief changes in shape and form and sometimes the personality of the person who is grieving also changes, leading to observations such as ‘So and so has never been the same since his wife died…’ and so on.
It is true that people can change after a loss, especially after the loss of a long term baby boomer partner of thirty or forty years. The grief process is different for everyone but unfortunately most of us must go through it at some time.
The Psychological Article on Bargaining: Going Through the Third Stage of Grief is part of Boomer Yearbook’s continuing series of baby boomers psychological coaching tips and how to alleviate elderly problems. We believe knowledge is power. We’d love to hear what you think.
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