Psychological Analysis of Death: The Death of Ivan Illych Essay

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The Death of Ivan Illych brings an excellent in-depth description of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 cycles of grief theory. In the book, it shows how Ivan Illych goes through these cycles in their own individual way. The cycles that Kubler-Ross uses in her theory are: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. To get a better understanding of these cycles, this paper will describe each cycle and provide quotations that will help develop an idea of how someone going through these cycles may react.
According to Kubler-Ross’s theory, the first cycle is denial. Denial in this case is the individual denying that they are dying. When the individual resists the reality that they are going to die. “Then where shall I be when I am no more?
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After the individual has had a chance to vent their anger and realizing that death is certain, they resort to bargaining with whatever higher power they believe in. “This involves the individual believing or hoping that he or she could postpone death by coming to a negotiation with a higher power” (Wikipedia.org). Although there might not be an exact reference to Ivan Illych bargaining, it would seem logical to believe he was bargaining when he confessed to the priest in hopes that a miracle would happen. So that then, he could go back into playing cards or working. The book also stated that Ivan felt relieved to have the priest hear his confession. “Ivan Illych was softened and seemed to feel a relief from his doubts and consequently from his sufferings, and for a moment, there came a ray of hope”(Tolystoy, “TdofII” p149-150). So it seems that Ivan Illych thinks he'll be cured because he confessed to the priest, therefore meaning he confessed to God.
Unfortunately, Ivan's condition gets worse and he enters the cycle of depression. This is when an individual realizes that their death is certain. Signs of this cycle include becoming silent, refusal of visitors, and spending most of their time crying and grieving. In the book, Ivan is shown casting away his wife and his fellow magistrates. The only one he allowed to visit him was his servant, Gerasim. “And he ceased crying...during that loneliness Ivan Illych had only lived in the…