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  • Writer's pictureFatima Learn

The 5 Stages Of Politics (AKA Grief)

Is anyone having trouble dealing with their emotions this election season? If you are not, I am sure you have seen it in others. To me, this experience seems similar to the grieving process. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ 1969 book “On Death and Dying” describes experiencing grief you go through a series of five emotions - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I consider the 5 stages of grief to be a truth in life, but overtime this model had been considered to be a bit outdated. Not everyone goes through all of them or in the same way or even in that order. These emotional reactions are basically a coping mechanism to help us survive the grief that can come from loss. In the featured image, I have attempted to give my artful rendition of the 5 stages through digital manipulating 5 unflattering photos of myself.

Lately, political discussions with family and friends seems to imitate the emotions of these 5 stages of grief. I see them displayed in conversations about how the pandemic is being handled, our political leaders values and even each others choices. Everything just seems intense, and I believe what has triggered these emotions is the loss of the pre-pandemic lifestyle. Therefore, when I am on the receiving end of these emotions, I see it as the other person is really expressing something more than what is being said. I remind myself that everyone goes through those 5 stages in different ways because we are all unique and do not react to things the same way.

The Realization

After all these years, I realized my husband and I had a very cohesive relationship when it came to political beliefs no matter how passionate we were about different candidates. Mark was a plastics engineer and I am an artist. If you are familiar with Canadian politics, then you would probably say you can guess what party we would vote for from knowing our professions. Certain platforms would simply suit our interests more than others as a young career oriented person in manufacturing or in the arts. As we got older and started a family our interests changed which affected our political beliefs. However, recognizing the importance of having individual political beliefs, there were no attempts to convince each other one way or another. Even when we knew that our votes might cancel each other out. I think he felt the same way as I did about political conversations: know the other person’s values if you want to change their mind. If you don’t know the other persons interests, then what you say might be hurtful. We knew each others interests and principles were different and the discussions would probably lead us to discrediting that persons individuality. We did not want to do that.

Strength Lies In Differences

A brilliant writer by the name of Audre Lorde was quoted saying “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences” . The differences were enough between Mark and I that we searched out our own sources and research to come up with our own conclusions when it came to politics. Upon revealing to each other what our political preference was - then “acceptance” of our decisions became a series of sabotage attempts to keep us from going to the polls on time. The election always reminds me of when I learned that my car needs a distributor cap to start, and my husband had to buy a portable air compressor to refill his tires. One thing we always seemed to agree on was humour and any clever deviant behaviour that might come from it.

Don’t forget to vote.

Featured Image - Digitally manipulated photographs using Photoshop and Illustrator. “Portrait of Emotions” by Fatima Learn


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