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The PM Stages of Grief

by Derek LeBlond

Version 3 - Create Date: 2022-08-08, Last Update: 2022-08-26

You are not a true PM until you have gone through the stages of grief on your project.

The Kübler-Ross grief cycle is an attempt to describe what it takes for humans to process loss. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross came up with the model in 1969. It contains 5 stages, and while they describe grief, who hasn't had a grief ridden project.

First, there is denial. This is where you tell yourself the project is exciting and doable. You tell yourself there are tradeoffs, but it will get done and everyone will be happy.

Then anger. This is where you find out the real details of the project, and it isn't what you thought. This project is going to be a disaster. They totally forgot the V in Minimum Viable Product.

Then bargaining. Now you start to figure out how to get out of this. Who can I get to take this project? What can I do to make this a mess instead of a disaster? Maybe I can just retire early…

Now it's time for the depression. You are stuck with the project. It will be a disaster. You are still 30 years from retirement, and this is what you get to look forward to.

Finally, acceptance. It is what it is. You work with what you have a deliver what you can, haunted by the lack of scope, time, or resources that could have made this better.

Sound familiar? Welcome to the PM club.


Minutes to Read


Flesch Reading Ease


Fairly difficult to read.