Coming to Terms with Trump’s Election: The Five Stages of Grief

Erin Mincer

I would dare to say that November 8 marked one of the most traumatic dates in recent memory  for  many Americans. I tried to focus on my assignments, but I helplessly found myself checking the status of the historic race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As the day began, I assumed that Clinton was a shoo-in. Major media outlets and pollsters were predicting that she had a 90 percent chance of winning. They couldn’t be that far off, right?

It became apparent, however, that Trump actually had a chance. At the start of the night, polling sites such as FiveThirtyEight predicted Clinton had a 71.4 percent chance of winning. As the night wore on, I watched in dismay as that percentage began to plummet. It was only when Trump won major swing states, such as Florida and Ohio, that I began to come to terms with what was happening. The unthinkable was happening; Trump was going to be our next president-elect.

This election signified a turning point for America; we as a country would rather elect an openly racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic man than a well-qualified female candidate. While the five stages of grief are usually applied after a tragic event (such as the death of a family member), I would consider the results of this election to constitute a major loss for the country as a whole. These stages are meant to be used to heal and rebuild, and those are two things that I think we, as a country, need more than ever during this time. Here are the five stages of dealing with grief when it comes to dealing with Trump’s election:

Denial. As soon as I realized that Trump was going to garner more electoral votes than Clinton (even though he lost the popular vote), I could not register what was happening. It was as though my brain had shutdown. I honestly could not fathom the thought of him running the most powerful country in the world. I immediately texted my mom for some form of reassurance, but for the first time in my life she seemed just as unsure about the future as I was. When I looked at my Facebook feed the next morning, several people had posted statuses expressing shock and dismay. The only consolation that I could find was that at least I was not alone in my confusion.

Anger. This might be the stage that most people are stuck in at this time. All of my professors were more than willing to discuss the election results, which I genuinely appreciated. This allowed students to openly admit their frustration and rage associated with the results. I will admit, as I watched the pure pain of my fellow classmates, I could not help but shed a few tears. Members of our own community are rightfully frightened by the outcome of the election: their basic rights are at stake. In all honesty, if you are not a straight, white male, how can you not be scared?

Bargaining. This is one of the hardest steps in my opinion to deal with. What’s done is done. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, Trump will be the next president of the United States. While it is important to try and consider how a situation like this can be avoided in the future, I (sadly) believe that nothing can be done about Trump’s election now.

Depression. This is a scary time for our country. While so much hangs in the balance, it is crucial to remember to take care of yourself during this stressful period. Find friends with whom you can talk openly about your fears. It is important to be respectful of the feelings of those around you, especially those who feel the most targeted by Trump’s hateful rhetoric. The counseling center is also a great resource if you need to talk to someone. Although it may be difficult, it could be beneficial to try and stay away from social media as much as possible during the next few weeks. Over the past week, I have found myself constantly refreshing my Facebook feed in order to see how other people are reacting. However, I have found that this has only fueled my anxiety. Take a break – it will help you in the long run.

Acceptance. I am not personally ready for this step, and I acknowledge that. There are still ways to let your voice be heard. Following the results, there has been a major push for people to donate to Planned Parenthood, since the future of this nonprofit organization remains largely unknown. If you feel up to it, consider attending a protest. Several are going on in major cities. That being said, the purpose of these protests should be peaceful. As Time Magazine reported, the number of hate crimes has increased since the election. It is crucial to be an ally to those who need it during this period of uncertainty.

While this country is going through several major changes, it is crucial to think of your own mental and physical health, as well as the well-being of others. It is now more important than ever to remember that #LoveTrumpsHate.