Elections and Grieving: The losers shouldn’t just “get over it”








We grieve for more than the people we love and our furry (even scaly) family members. There are many things that can create a sense of loss in our lives and when that occurs grief is a natural response.

In her pioneering book On Death and Dying, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first discussed her theory of the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These have become something of a standard for how we view and deal with grieving when it comes to everything from losing a loved one, to the end of a relationship, to losing a job, to having the candidate of your choice lose an emotional and hard-fought political race.

However, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there are those who justifiably challenge the Kübler-Ross theory. A deeply felt griefloss – no matter the source – can be disconcerting and disorienting and there can never be a prescription or linear method for how to deal with it. The progression differs from person to person and situation to situation. The depth of loss matters, and that also differs for each individual.

No matter which candidate lost in Tuesday’s historic presidential election, it was inevitable that his or her supporters would find it unbelievable and feel an intense sense of anger. We are seeing that now playing out in both constructive and damaging ways. People move through the stages of grief at their own pace and they deserve the time to do so. Those who insist that they “get over it” and “move on” are doing them no favors, even if that is the intention.

On the other hand, the winners have earned the right to celebrate and they need not moderate feelings of excitement and anticipation. Those on the losing side should recognize and accept this. However, celebration is very different than gloating and the victors are much more likely to win over those who are anguished by respecting the grief process as a natural outgrowth of loss.

Those feeling the same sense of loss should not try to pressure friends, family members or themselves into moving too quickly to the point of acceptance. That will come in time and trying to force it will only prolong the process and exacerbate any problems.


©2016 Robert Naylor Coaching & Consulting, LLC. All rights reserved.

Robert Naylor is a journalist, journalism educator, consultant, certified coach, facilitator, and speaker who helps people become better leaders, improve workplace performance, and find focus in their careers and life. He is available for on-site training, private coaching, keynote presentations, lectures, and commentary. For more information visit naylorcoaching online or contact

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