Mourning among teachers via the Kübler-Ross model

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross is a Swiss-American psychiatrist and psychologist who has worked with dying patients. The latter is interested in the way in which individuals manage the announcement of their imminent death and has thus developed a series of stages that they go through. The relevance of the work of Kübler-Ross (1985) [1] is integrated into the management of change in an institutional environment, because the announcement of an imminent death is considered to be the ultimate change [2] . In fact, this theory has been taken up in a panoply of human fields of study, including coaching and managerial analysis.

The process of managing change by an individual, no matter the circumstance, follows a predictable sequence, but manifests itself in different ways. Here is what is also called the five stages of grief  :

  • Negation (initial shock);
  • Anger and fear;
  • Bargaining;
  • The letting go;
  • The overtaking.

Because mourning is indeed present and it can be paralyzing, causing, to a certain extent, stagnation in education? These bereaved, as Jacques Cool, a well-known blogger in French-Canadian education, refuse to accept that education can no longer be what it was.

But through these analyzes, questions, concerns, emotional reactions, etc., one thing remains. The lament of this perilous uncertainty created by a time of turmoil exasperates many today, but this same moment will make them laugh in a few months or a few years and often, they will relativize the extent of the change by emphasizing them- even that their reaction was disproportionate to the change in the organization of their work.


In conclusion, individuals within an institution must learn to develop a reflective attitude on their reaction to change in order to remain in an objective perception of the situation by evacuating the emotional aspect of these reactions to situations of change. Obviously, this is a long learning process for humans that will never come to an end. But nevertheless, this reflective attitude will allow the development of a perspective of metacognitive detachment. The survival of the evolving human is at stake.

However, parallel to this human evolution, we must not neglect the evolutionary aspect of the institution itself, which must do the same reflective exercise as its employees. It must see to its strategic approach and its mode of communication with the members of its organization. It is the principle of the learning organization which places itself in a situation of co-evolution [3] . Thus, in order to co-evolve, this organization directs its change approach by taking into account, not only the issues that justify its new orientations, but also:

  • Various actors: parents, students, teachers, support staff, managers, etc .;
  • From its immediate environment and regional challenges;
  • The creation of recursive conditions for the generation of innovative ideas and experiences;
  • The need to create optimal learning conditions of all kinds for its actors.

There is therefore an ineluctable urgency to favor fruitful contradictions, in the sense that it is necessary to distinguish and combine instead of separating and excluding [so] to recognize that all movement, all progress and ceaseless combination of contradictions of order and disorder, rigor and heat, left brain and right brain [4] . These contradictions make us evolve through the richness of their content and they allow us to obtain a better understanding of a situation thanks to its added value.

[1] Kübler-Ross, E., Death, the last stage of growth , Éditions du Rocher, Parsi, 1985, p. 239.

[2] Maletto, M. The management of change , Éditions Saint-Martin, Anjou, 2009, p. 35.

[3] Sérieyx, Boussoles pour temps de mist , Pearson Education, Paris, 2003, p. 122-129.

[4] Ibid., P. 123.