Five Stages of Trump-related Grief
Denial. This happened to all of us at first, even people who voted for him. We couldn’t believe it, we were living through cognitive dissonance. We’d wake up in the morning wondering why they were referring to inane tweets on NPR, suddenly realize at lunch time that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will probably never do anything significant again. Binge-watching West Wing helped me sustain this stage. They were so damn patriotic and good. Their integrity and well-meaning-ness were leaking onto everything, and although they didn’t have gay marriage, they were progressing towards it, not backing down from it.
Anger. This stage hit me a few days after the election, in spite of my West Wing strategy. It was a rainy, cold day, and everyone I saw on the street looked absolutely pissed. People were bumping into each other more than usual, partly because of the umbrella traffic, partly on purpose. It was dumb rage, as anger always is. Nobody understood what the point was of being there, they just wanted to get home, to eat muffins, to smoke a damn cigarette. I came very close to picking up smoking that day.
Bargaining. For many people, this stage is still happening. I want to snap them out of it, out of the idea that the recounts will work or that the electoral college system will be changed or that electoral college delegates will refuse to do their job. It’s not gonna happen people, and Jill Stein can please stop. And it’s not that I don’t want to recount stuff – why not? – it’s just that the dying hope that it will change the outcome is sad to witness.
Depression. The problem with calling it depression is that people who are realistic, rather than overly optimistic, seem depressed. I’ve got to admit, I was much more prepared for this than most New Yorkers I know. I think it’s because I’ve been in war mode since joining Occupy in 2011. I never thought Hillary would win, that she was a good candidate, or that people’s resentment and anger had been properly addressed. I’ve basically been here, poised for this moment, since Obama introduced HAMP as a shitty and insufficient way to address the financial crisis back in 2009. So you can call it depression, I just call it reality.
Acceptance. And by acceptance I do not mean “normalization.” By acceptance I mean it’s time to move forward, to build things and communities and organizations that will protect the most vulnerable in post-fact America. That could mean giving money, but it should also mean being an activist and coming up with good ideas, like these churches offering sanctuary to undocumented migrants. It also might mean occupying the democratic party – or for that matter, some other party – and reimagining it for the future. Acceptance is not passive, not in this case. Acceptance means accepting our roles as activists and getting shit done.