The 5 Stages of Grief, New England Winter Edition

This is when men and women are broken.
This is when men and women are broken. –REUTERS

The thought comes out of nowhere and without warning, like a rogue snowball launched over a fence. It’s cold and unsettling, melting between your scarf and your coat, eventually making its way into the depths of your heart.

It can happen anytime. Perhaps while you’re sitting in gridlock traffic on I-93, staring at the back of a dumptruck filled with sand. Cars start to move, and a shower of grit rains down on your windsheild. You’re out of windshield washer fluid, of course, so you suffer the sound of the grains grinding against the glass as you try to clear it away.

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Then an old man in a Nissan Sentra won’t let you merge into the right lane, and you lock eyes. He most likely flips you off and yells things, the exact words of which you won’t hear, but the sentiment of which you definitely understand.

And just like that, it hits you: “Why do I live here?’’

It’s not a completely serious question, because the minute you think it, you’ll remember those warm spring days when the docks of the Esplanade begged you to spend an afternoon splayed out across their warm planks. You’ll remember the euphoria you felt when Malcolm Butler intercepted that pass on Sunday, and the joy that comes with lighting the candle inside a jack-o’-lantern on a crisp fall evening. You will feel pride for New England.

But pride doesn’t keep you from hitting a wall at the news of yet another snow storm. It is in the depths of February—having been through months of cold and snow, knowing there’s still months of cold and snow to come (followed by mud)—that men and women are broken.

If you can make it through the breaking point and soldier on, however, you are a true New Englander. Here is the process you will go through.

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Officially known as the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle, you probably know the following progression as the “five stages of grief.’’ The model isn’t usually applied to people dealing with the news of another impending snow storm, but given recent events and the weather forecast for next week, it seemed appropriate.

Denial: At first, you won’t believe that it’s possible for another storm to come through and dump more snow upon our already streetlight-high piles. You’ll check multiple websites, because the meteorologist reports you’ve already read can’t be correct. You’ll cling to the shred of hope you find in the form of one crazy guy with a blog who says that not only will we not get another storm, but that all the snow will melt by Monday.

Anger: You’ll realize that crazy guy with a blog is indeed just that, and then you’ll get mad. Really mad. You’ll lash out at coworkers who expound on the virtues of more snowfall. You’ll yell, “But I don’t want to go cross-country skiing, Martha!’’ as you throw a zip drive against a wall.

Bargaining: You’ll volunteer at a soup kitchen in the hopes that karma is real, and your good deeds will stave off another snowpocalypse. You’ll make promises to the heavens to call your mother more, eat at least a vegetable a day, and stop subscribing Martha to hairless-cat-of-the-day email lists.

Depression: You’ll realize that no amount of charity, no number of zip drives thrown, no volume of websites read, will change anything. You’ll slump down in your chair, stare balefully out the window, and understand that snow is certain, and we’re all doomed. You will Google images from The Day After Tomorrow. You won’t know why you print them out, but you will.

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Acceptance: Eventually, you’ll come to terms with the idea of another blizzard. The first flakes will fall, it will be beautiful, and you’ll realize that perhaps this isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Shoveling is great exercise, and maybe after this storm you will rent cross-country skis.

Then you’ll buy a one-way plane ticket to the British Virgin Islands.

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