Dealing With Loss

As we review the 2016 election for the President of the United States of America, we discover that even though Hillary Clinton received 45.5 percent of the popular vote to Donald’s Trump’s 42.2 percent, due to the Electoral College System of voting, Donald Trump has been declared the new President of the United States. Those who rejoiced by this outcome need no tools to deal with these results. Their euphoria is evident and gleeful. However, Clinton’s supporters’ disappointment, gloom and anger are also understood as it is enshrouded with sadness, disbelief and even anger. How can Hillary’s supporters deal with their anger, hurt and outrage about the process that deprived them of the candidate whom they perceive as having lawfully earned the title of “President” and accept the Republican candidate’s new title and position?

In her book titled “On Death and Dying”, Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, reported her findings of the five stages of grief terminally ill patients at The University of Chicago experienced in dealing with death and dying: “1. Denial- Clinging to a false, preferred reality. 2. Anger- “Why me- it is not fair.” 3. Bargaining- “Negotiating for an extended life” 4. Depression- “feeling despair”. 5. Acceptance- “I can’t fight it – I may as well prepare for it.” She later expanded this model to include, “Loss of a job or income, painful rejection, relationship breakup, drug addiction, incarceration, chronic illness, infertility diagnosis, and even minor losses.”

This model has been observed in multiple situations where one is reluctant to accept reality and initially struggles to understand it with the hope of changing its inevitable course. Politics, Laws and other edicts from a governing power are extremely difficult for adults to comply with and to accept. Yet, reality and time, as well as our adaptable brains prepare us to take another look at the distasteful situation and move into a modified phase of managing reality the best we can.

If you are an individual who did not choose the newly elected president, be assured that you are part of a very large group of people who are angry, hurt and feel the unfairness of the political system that enabled this outcome, despite the will of the majority of voters. Prepare for the 5 stages of accepting a loss as stated above.

To deal with the reality of an unchosen President:

  • Adopt Dr. Kübler-Ross’ model of the five stages of accepting an undesirable outcome.
  • Observe yourself going through the five stages of adjusting to this loss.
  • Soothe yourself with knowing that the angry and distasteful feelings will subside and resignation will prevail.
  • If you feel despair, remember that it is the stage before acceptance and though you may NEVER accept this newly elected President, your values, morals, and decency will help you overcome the anger, resentment and despair you may intermittently feel.
  • Try enriching others’ lives by willing yourself to adopt a new endeavor in which your caring, decency, fairness and goodness is shared and valued.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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