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Kubler-Ross Stages of Death and Dying in Disney-Pixar's UP

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Rachel Mercedes

on 3 October 2014

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Transcript of Kubler-Ross Stages of Death and Dying in Disney-Pixar's UP

Kubler-Ross Stages of Death and Dying in Disney-Pixar's UP
Lindsey Johnson, Rachel Adam, MK Jabbia, Nichole Wilson, Ime Ekpoudom
Up is the 2009 Disney-Pixar animated film about an old man, Carl, who is unable to move on after the recent passing of wife, Ellie. When faced with losing his last physical connection to her, the home they built together, he decides to literally "pick up and leave." Stringing balloons to his house, he embarks on one last adventure that he and Ellie always dreamed of.
However, Carl's spontaneous adventure ends up being more than he bargained for. His companions are a Wilderness Explorer, Russell, a bird, Kevin, and a talking dog, Doug. Through his new relationships and numerous mishaps during his adventure, Carl learns that his happiness does not have to die with Ellie, but that he can be happy by helping the ones he is close to.
The story of UP
Developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 novel On Death and Dying, Kubler-Ross depicted the patterns that would develop with patients faced with terminal-illnesses.
Stage 1: Denial
After Ellie's death, Carl spends his time trying to protect all he has left of her, but in the process, has lost track of how to be happy. Carl feels an overwhelming anger and bitterness over losing his wife, which causes him to lash out at others from hitting the worker over the head with his cane, trying to kick Russell out of his house, to yelling at Russell and crushing his dreams. Carl does not want to move on so he resorts to anger to protect his solidarity, house, and possessions, which are all he has left of Ellie. After a while, this is the only emotion Carl knows and it becomes a safety blanket for him.

Stage 3: Bargaining
Carl bargains with himself that going to Paradise Falls will help ease his pain from Ellie's loss. All he has left is the hopeful thinking that this adventure will help him to fill the void that Ellie's absence created and to someone how avoid having to let her go. The audience knows he is doing it for her because he proudly wears his grape soda pin as he sets off to Paradise Falls.
Stage 4: Depression
Instead of allowing himself to feel sad after the death of Ellie, Carl chooses to feel angry so that he can avoid facing his true feelings. However, after his trip to Paradise Falls seemed to have failed, Carl is met with an overwhelming depression because he not only failed Ellie by not being able to fulfill his promise, but he is having to finally face the fact that she is really gone. This stage is necessary to finally reach acceptance because you cannot avoid your feelings or the truth forever.
UP provides a new perspective of grief, loss, and moving on through the adventures of Carl as he learns to live life after the loss of his wife, Ellie. Ellie's death transformed Carl from a happy, kind man to a sour, depressed recluse; and when faced with losing his last connection to Ellie, Carl stubbornly tries to fulfill his promise to Ellie of moving to Paradise Falls. Through the mishaps along the way, Carl is forced to make new relationships, which teach him how to feel emotions other than bitterness and anger again and how to create new dreams so that he feel purpose and fulfillment, helping him to move on.
Axelrod, J. (2006). The 5 stages of loss and grief. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617

Chapman, A. (2013). Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: The five stages of grief. Business Balls. Retrieved on September 27, 2014, from http://www.businessballs.com/elisabeth_kubler_ross_five_stages_of_grief.htm
Kubler-Ross Stages of Death and Dying
attachment to his house as a physical representation of Ellie. When the house was threatened by the businessman trying to buy it and the construction worker damaging the mail box, it elicited an out of proportion emotional response from Carl, showing his fear of losing his last connection to Ellie and having to accept that she is gone and move on.
his conversations with Ellie as if she was still there, acting as if she never left.
his isolation and refusal to make new relationships. This is common for people in this stage and shows that they do not want to have to deal with their feelings of loss and grief, which they might be forced to do by talking to other people.
Stage 2: Anger
In the beginning of the movie, Carl refused to let himself accept Ellie's death and heal, instead, trapping himself in his house and clinging onto any memory of her. However, through his new adventures and relationships, Carl is no longer able to hide in his world of isolation and begins to transform and go through the stages of death and dying. Carl's transformation through the film reaches its climax when he finds Ellie's note thanking him for their adventures and telling him to go start his own. This wakes him up from his misery and shows him that while he can still be grateful for his life with Ellie, that part of his life is now over and he needs to go have new adventures with new people that are important to him, like Russell.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Stage 1 Denial:
A defense mechanism where the person refuses to acknowledge and accept their situation. This can be done consciously or not and often results in the person isolating themselves.

Stage 2 Anger:
Can manifest as the person being angry with themselves, the person who passed away, or a general feeling of anger towards everything because they feel like what happened to them is unfair. Sometimes feeling the anger is easier than dealing with the grief.
Carl refuses to accept that Ellie is no longer a part of his life through his:
Stage 3 Bargaining
: Where the person tried to make a deal with God or whatever it is they believe in to either help a loved one or themselves.
Stage 4 Depression
: The person feeling depressed is a steps towards them facing and accepting the reality of what happened. This can be an overwhelming feeling of sadness, fear, loneliness, or helplessness.
Stage 5 Acceptance
: While not everyone is able to reach this stage, this is where the person accepts their situation and is able to find a small amount of peace with it, realizing that life goes on.
Kubler-Ross Stages of Death and Dying
Kevin and Doug
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