The Six Stages of Grief (That’s Right, I Added One)

The Kubler-Ross Model lays out five stages of grief. You’ve all heard this before. But I think it’s worth revisiting them today.

The stages are

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Here they are as applies to this IU Basketball season.

  1. Denial – We’re better than this. We should never lose to Northwestern at home. We should be playing for a conference title every year, regardless of how much of our previous team is gone.
  2. Anger – SUBSTITUTION PATTERNS!!!!!!!! Tom Crean is terrible. Let’s fire him and convince Brad Stevens to take a pay cut.
  3. Bargaining – Who wants to buy my tickets?
  4. Depression – This sucks. We gave up a 9-point lead to Penn State in the final 2 minutes. I can’t take this anymore.
  5. Acceptance – We are out. We’re not going to make the NCAA tournament. We might miss the NIT. How’d James Blackmon, Jr. do last night?

What Kubler-Ross failed to account for is the sixth stage, the Pet Semetery phenomenon. This is when there is a death and through a series of events, mostly to do with ancient Indiana burial grounds or mid-season replacement television, you are presented with the option to bring the dead back to life.

We’ll call this Sixth Stage, Reanimation. I have never seen a circumstance where Reanimation ends well, but it provides a small window of hope through which one can view the world not as it is, but as they wish it to be.

The IU fanbase seemed to have reach Acceptance after the loss at Wisconsin. We had too many losses, were too far below .500 in conference. We didn’t have enough good wins. But then we beat No. 20 Iowa and No. 22 Ohio State and I’m starting to see signs that we’ve moved forward to the very unhealthy state of Reanimation

Here’s how that looks.

You start seeing blind NCAA resume sheets where our record is compared to UK’s and people start saying things like, “How are they considered in, and we’re not even a bubble team?”

You start seeing people laying out the case for what happens if we beat Nebraska and Michigan. How many Big Ten Tournament wins do we need to get in? One? Two? At that point we don’t have to win it all do we? I don’t think so, do you think so?

The next step, if we beat Nebraska, is the return of the two greatest enemies to your emotional well-being. Expectation and Indignation. If we win on Wednesday, the tone of the rhetoric is going to change. People are going to start getting angry that we’re a bubble team. They’re going to start lamenting the Penn State collapse even more vocally than they already are.

In short, the peace that comes with Acceptance is going to give way to the severe anger and anxiety of thinking we should be in that comes with Reanimation. And it’s gonna get ugly.

I’m not saying I’m immune. I’ve found myself doing a little mental math on the possibilities of “if this then that.” When I see that it’s happening I stop myself because it’s not even worth thinking about until we win on Wednesday, and even then I’d recommend spending more time thinking about what you personally can do to make winter stop and spring begin than thinking about IU making the NCAA Tournament. The former is still likely to bear more fruit, but the ridiculous becomes the not-totally-inconceivable if we beat Nebraska.

For people coming out the back end of Acceptance and staring down the barrel of Reanimation, not-totally-inconceivable is a very tiny step from this-could-never-happen-but.

And this-could-never-happen-but turns to I-can’t-believe-no-one-else-believes-in-us after 4 minutes on a message board. And this way lies madness.

Beware the madness.


Jeff Taylor