With all due respect to professors and armchair psychologists everywhere, I would like to take this opportunity to dispute the overly simplistic breakdown of the Five Stages of Grieving. Brought about by psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 work On Death and Dying, she introduced the concept of the five stages. We are all pretty familiar with them, most likely. You have, in no particular order, the emotions of
Supposedly, people move through these five wonderful stages when it comes to losing a loved one. The order you experience each particular stage isn’t important, and people can experience some or all of these stages. Originally intended to help people cope with terminal medical diagnoses, the Five Stages Model has been expanded and adapted to help people in all walks of life.
Unless, of course, you’re a fan of the 2018 Chicago Cubs.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look…
The first stage is not Denial. It is Exuberance. It is a healthy pre-game dose of “We’ve got this!” with a cold Old Style to wash it down. It is pure, distilled confidence. It is taking comfort in knowing that the team you live and die with will scratch out not only the game-tying run but the game winner when the opportunity is presented.
The second stage is not Anger, it is actually Nervous. When the game entered the 11th and 12th innings, there was enough nervous energy inside Wrigley Field to power a cruise ship. As the opportunities came and went, and as the bullpens extended the innings count, there was a realization that it was anybody’s game at that point.
They say the third stage is Bargaining, but I totally disagree. For the fans in attendance, the third stage was more Shock. As in, “I am shocked that one of our best pitchers just left a change-up over the plate so some light-hitting backup catcher could plate the go-ahead run! Shocked, I say!”
Stage four could be Depression, but it’s not. For this Cubs fan, the fourth stage of grieving is Drunk. A few more beers and few more hours offered perspective, and that is something totally missing after a game AND A SEASON like the one we just experienced. Rule 1: Nothing in this life is guaranteed. Rule 2: The Cubs never do things the easy way. They played their asses off and overcame some huge obstacles, only to come up short when it mattered most. You know what that leads to?
The fifth stage actually is Acceptance… I accept that this season did not end the way I wanted. I accept that we were damn good for long stretches and damn bad for short bursts as well. I also accept that this team’s championship window is still wide open. I accept that the core of this team — Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, Contreras, Heyward, and Schwarber — are in or entering their prime years. I accept that our starting pitching is pretty damn good, and that our bullpen was tops in the NL. I accept that Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon will have a plan for 2019, and I accept that we will once again be talking division championships and playoff baseball at the end of next season.
So for now, let’s tip our caps to the Colorado Rockies. For one night, they were better than us. We just have to accept it…
Photo: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh