Loss & Grief Series: Bargaining
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Grief happens when people experience death or other significant losses. Decades ago, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described five responses to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Bargaining is common behavior when we are negotiating the terms and conditions of a situation or transaction with someone. We offer something in return for receiving something else. Bargaining also may occur as a response to loss that is beyond our control. As with other responses to loss, we may experience bargaining in new ways during the uncertain times of the Covid-19 pandemic. What is your experience?
Background Information:This conversation guide is part of a six-guide series. Explore the series in order through Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, and Finding Meaning. Resources that may be helpful in understanding the grief experience include this Harvard Business Review article.
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Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
- What losses have you experienced or worried about?
- If bargaining has been a response for you when you’ve had previous loss experiences, what differences, if any, do you see in your current experience? What is that like for you?
- What has your bargaining focused on?
- What have you learned about yourself?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
- How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?