Now seems about as good a time as any to talk about the grieving process and the ubiquitous and oft debated stages of grief. We are all feeling us; some of us are barely containing it. We were so sure that Clinton would win. We just knew she would. How could anyone when it came right down to it vote for Trump? Not only is there a deep sense of loss, deeper than when Al Gore — damn it, Gore! — lost at the turn of the century, but it feels personal. Much more so than when W was president, Trump being president feels like a personal affront. It is visceral. The ultimate suckered gut punch.
We have all heard and seen the Five Stages of Grief talked about in serious hushed tones n on NPR and PBS. We’ve seen them parodied on SNL and David Letterman. Hell, most of us could even rattle off two or three at the drop of a hat.
Let’s list them, just for fun, if we can use fun in association with grief.
The Five Stages of Grief
Often lists will include isolation with this one. I think, but I’m not sure, that Kubler-Ross did not include it, though. We are just disbelieving. We’re sure that the person or pet that died will be in bed next to us — and for some us, at least in the movies, they are! Yuch, Jack, do you hafta bring that kind of weird shit up at such serious times? We’re trying to learn y’all something here.
I know that for the first few days after the election that I’d imagine something would happen… I didn’t know what, but something, and not only would Trump not be president, but Clinton would be! Now, some people are mumbling something about the little understood electoral college saving us from Trump when it shoulda been voters. The fuckers. You can never trust a voter. Biggest problem with democracy. Damn voters.
Any who, if you, too were in denial and expecting Clinton to declared the winner or that you’d wake up and find out that Trump’s election was a nightmare (it is, but not the kind you can wake up from) or trick or terrible practical joke by Christ Christie — like the GW Bridge thing — or something, write about it in the comments, please. I’d love to hear about it.
Who isn’t pissed off that Trump is president? Anyone? Anyone? Is it just me? It’s only me, then. I don’t think any election has affected me as deeply as this one. I couldn’t trust myself to not just go off on someone.
I live in China, now, and work with a bunch of Aussies, Kiwis, Brits, Scots, Irish, and South Africans. One of them asked me about the election the day after, What’s wrong with Americans? she asked. We’re all racists, I answered. Then someone else was like all offended, You literally mean that 100% of all Americans are racists? she asked with disdain dripping off her every word and pooling in offended sensibilities at her feet. I literally had to count to ten and take a deep breath. I apologized and said no, I didn’t mean that, but I did mean that Trump’s election is a reflection of the racial issues that many white Americans harbor. She was not amused. She would’ve been less amused — and I unemployed — if I had just let it rip at that point like I had wanted to.
Anywho, you get what I mean. And, we all know people who are royally pissed or were royally pissed and angry, too, abut the election. Tell me your favorite I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore story in the comments!
People who believe that there is a god who can control such things engage in bargaining more than those of us who don’t. It’s silly to try and promise to be good if you’ll only let Fido live one more day if you don’t believe in anything that comes close to having that ability.
But many of us engage in the What-If game: If only I HAD stuffed the ballot box or voted a million times! You get the picture. My what-if’s all center on Clinton. What if she had ran a more positive campaign especially in October focusing on her good qualities, experiences, and traits? You can only drive someone’s negatives down so far and Trump’s were pretty far down to begin with.
Anywho. I find it hard to enter into any of this kind of bargaining, so maybe you have a good bargain that you’d like to strike and don’t mind sharing in the comments.
The deep sadness of loss. Who the fuck isn’t depressed after this election? The disappointment alone is just about enough to kill ya. I know people who got into bed and didn’t come out for days. I know people who are still drunk. I know people who cry at the drop of a hat. For some, their depression is debilitating, paralyzing. I know I didn’t want to talk to anyone about the election. I didn’t want to write about it. I didn’t want to think about it. How many people steered clear of the Facing Books after the election?
How about it? Can we enter into a I’m so depressed, I… contest in the comments?
I know I’m not here, yet, because I pray to god that I never reach it. Trump will for ever be the pussy grabbing president. President Pussy Grabber! If racists felt that Obama wasn’t a legitimate president, I don’t know how I will ever accept this unproductive narcissistic personality disorder con-artist who lost the popular vote as president. Fucking Putin bootlicker!
If you or someone you know has made it to acceptance — Senator Elizabeth Warren, perhaps? — please relate it in the comments. I’d love to know about it.
The Myth of the Five Stages of Grief
Of course, there are those who think that the stages of grief are a myth because they object to the idea that there are distinct stages and a right way to grieve. They are right of course. There is no right way to grieve. You take it as it comes. Like I said, I haven’t found myself bargaining very much over grief, but I do find myself depressed. I don’t often get angry about death and loss, either. But, I think that many people experience many of these emotions after experiencing a significant loss. They might not be in order, they might go back to one of them and experience it again.
The intensity of our grief is proportional to our love of whatever we lost. I for one truly thought Clinton would make a great president and truly thought that she would be elected. I find myself being angry at my June through October self for being so gullible for believing it so completely!
The thing that we all need after a loss is a sense of control. Death is a loss of control. We could not prevent it. As hard as many of us worked for Clinton. As strongly as we believed she would win. She didn’t. It was out of our control. We couldn’t stop it from happening. The weird thing about watching the election returns is that as badly as a candidate needs votes, there ain’t no more votes to be cast. She can’t hurry to that area of the country and campaign some more. It’s done. It is outside of all of our control. If knowing the stages of grief helps you feel just a little bit more in control, then they’ve helped.
The other thing that the stages of grief tells us, is that they are likely to pass. We will return to our usual emotional status quo. Knowing that it will end is another type of control that can be a comfort as you endure difficult times.
A very strong human need is to feel understood and accepted. When you are in one of the stages and it seems weird and endless and like no one gets you, it is helpful to know that others have gone through that, too. And more than likely there is someone among the literal millions in the nation and around the world who feels very similar emotions as you. It is helpful to meet with friends, family, and complete strangers and realize that they, too, are experiencing these emotions. But, if someone is having a reaction that you can’t quite grok, don’t freak them out by saying, Ew, you’re weird! What a freak! Just smile and accept it as best you can.
The other thing we all need is a sense of moral worth. And here Trump is the endless spring, the bottomless pit of immorality giving us an endless supply of moral superiority. He is so amoral, he is the blackhole of morality. There is a deep and abiding abyss in the man’s soul that compels him to immoral behavior. He obliviously leaves destruction, death, and ruined lives in his wake. He is chaos eternal. Compared to him everyone except maybe OJ Simpson and Jeffrey Dahmer are moral.
In closing, all I can say, is Hold on to your asses, y’all! Shit just got real.
Trump should come with a trigger warning. If any of y’all or someone you know is having a super hard time with the election and impending inauguration or resignation (he ain’t gonna make it folks, it is just too damn hard for him), then please seek help. Many communities still have public mental health programs run through the local health department. Better hurry, though, before funding dries up for all that shit. There are hotlines both local and national, too. I’ve listed some of them in my blog post, Recovering from Gaslighting.