Most everyone is familiar with the “five stages of grief”, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, formulated by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and popularized in television shows, movies, advertisements and those weird forwarded emails your bullshit relatives send you instead of engaging with you directly. In fact, it may be the progenitor of the modern listicle. However, what most people don’t know is that dozens of other stages of grief were culled from the list for concision. Here are the absolutely real top six stages of grief omitted from the final Kübler-Ross model.
6. Rubbing the Hands Together and Cackling Maniacally
People in this unfortunate stage of grief tend to perform campy mischievous gestures while whispering clichéd phrases under their breath such as “At last, it begins”, “My plan is coming together perfectly”, “I’ve already secured my second term as President” or “The shareholders will be pleased”. If you see anyone twirling their mustache, brooding over pent fingers or constantly shaking hands with people in suits, they may be suffering from grief and should be considered potentially volatile.
“Actually,” begins the desperate cry of the grieving pedant. These poor souls are so shaken by grief that the only way they can cope with their lives is to nosily correct the smallest errors in friends, strangers and anyone unlucky enough to catch their notice. Pedantic grief manifests strongest when confronted with pop culture ephemera, as the pedant’s unnecessary attention to irrelevant detail can find numerous inconsistencies in the generally lazy constructs of mass media. Under no circumstance should one attempt to engage in a debate with someone in this condition, as continued argument only serves their sad delusion that people are interested in their absurd minutia.
4. The Underwater Stage
You know, like old video games or whatever. That’s the whole joke. Fuck you.
Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, has most often been associated with religious ecstasy, but in fact speaking in tongues, any tongue, is a sign of deep, irreparable loss. People suffering from grief sometimes attempt to symbolize material reality using “language”, an ideological tool created thousands of years ago by the first humans to grieve for existence itself. People in this stage may attempt to explain away the irrational and inexcusable indifference of the natural world by desperately assigning symbolic meaning to the completely arbitrary happenings of an amoral universe.
2. Necromantic Obsession
Also known as Orpheus Syndrome, this stage of grief compels the griever to seek out ways to cheat death and return their lost friends or loved ones from the grave. Eventually subsumed by “denial” in the Kübler-Ross list, necromantic obsession stems from an inability to accept the finality of death. Examples of necromantic obsession include drawing archetypical symbols such as pentagrams, octagons or circles on the floor in blood, repeatedly chanting the deceased’s name, telling everyone that the deceased is “in a better place”, decorating the home with animal skulls despite not living in the American southwest and listening to metal over the age of 15.
1. Dark Humor
Something of a misnomer, seeing as all humor is inherently dark and laughter itself is nothing but a coping mechanism to vent the frustrated helplessness of creatures simultaneously self-aware and ontologically ignorant, dark humor acts as a way for those struggling with grief to turn the tables on what is an otherwise terrible and paralyzing reality of existence and laugh at the absurdity that underwrites everything that is, ever was or ever will be. Those experiencing grief in this way may seem callous to tragedy, but in fact are crushed by the weight of a constant, dull grief, bearing down on them for what seems like years now. Each word, yes each word, this one, this one, this one, exorcizes some infinitesimal piece of that grief that haunts the psyche like a bad Scooby Doo villain whose shocking revelation upon being unmasked is that the mask conceals no face and the costume conceals no body, just an emptiness into which one can, should, must laugh. Remember when the Harlem Globetrotters were on Scooby Doo? And like Don Knotts? What was that all about?
Although the Kübler-Ross model fits most patterns of grief, never forget that grief can take an infinite number of forms and that each person experiences grief differently and inevitably. Don’t let some hyphenated-named doctor tell you what’s what. Be yourself, as the advertisements for mass-produced goods say, and rest assured that when your time comes to mourn the loss of everything you’ve ever loved, your authentic expression of inconsolable grief need not match some arbitrary list.
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