GROUNDED: The Five Stages of Grief (for a canceled comic)

It’s happened to all of us at some point; a new book comes out, we love it, it gets canceled after the first arc. We get left in the lurch. We have no idea how the plot wraps itself up. We’re concerned for the safety or sanity (or both) of our new favorite characters. We’re bummed out for the creators because their fictional baby has been tossed out with the metaphorical bathwater. It’s a sad time for everyone involved, and we move through the stages of grief in our own ways, but move through them we do.

The Kubler-Ross Grieving Curve

The news breaks, announced by the creators or the publisher or both, and immediately we enter the first stage:


“Wait, what day is it? Is it April 1st? It’s not? There must be some other explanation. Clearly, the internal mail at the publisher’s office was directed to the wrong department. It wasn’t? The creative team confirmed the cancellation? I still don’t believe it. It’s got to be a prank. A very well-orchestrated, elaborate prank. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THIS NEWS!


At about this point, we make the shift to the second stage:


“But why? It was doing so well! People love it, it got great reviews, everyone was talking about it! This can’t be happening. This is nonsense! I am outraged! How dare they do this to us? That team worked so hard to make this book a reality, and now what, we’re just supposed to take this lying down and let them steal this story from us? UNACCEPTABLE!”


Once we’ve managed to overcome our tantrum, we move on to stage three:


“Surely there’s some other book that’s doing poorly that hasn’t had as much good press like this one that could be canceled instead—couldn’t we take a circulation poll or something to find that out? I mean really, if they’re going to take as draconian a step as this they at least ought to find out what the readers think. Heck, they could do it on social media with one of those embedded survey thingies. It wouldn’t be difficult. They could do that, right? Five minutes of work for someone in marketing, tops. Okay, fine, maybe they don’t have to do that, but could we maybe just get, like, one more issue to tie up the loose ends? Just for our personal closure. I bed the creative team would appreciate that. They would, right? I mean, who would pass up the opportunity to finish their story on their own terms? That can’t be too much to ask!”


Having realized that we’re not going to get our way no matter how hard we wheedle, we enter the fourth stage:


::bitter sobbing, lots of flailing around on the floor, and excessive nose-blowing::


Eventually, we dig ourselves out of the giant pile of Kleenex we’ve managed to accumulate while we allowed ourselves the tidal proportions of weeping over our loss and we begin our journey into the fifth and final stage:


::enormous sigh::

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it, I suppose. We’ll just have to live without it. It’s a shame. It was such a lovely book, and the people working on it were such lovely people. Ah, well. It is what it is. ‘Que sera, sera,’ and all that. There will be other books. The team will work on other projects and we can support those. We can use this as an opportunity to exercise our imaginations and come up with our own ending for the story. This whole situation is character building! We will learn and grow from it! We must think positively! We should make a point to meditate on this and add it to our collection of tribulations accumulated on this plane of existence so that we may have it counted toward our journey to nirvana.”


It’s always tragic to lose something in which we’ve invested a portion of ourselves. When we find a creative work that reflects something with which we identify, or that we appreciate as a work of art or wordcraft, or that simply makes us laugh until our sides hurt, we allow it to affect our lives—whether that’s in an enormous way or the tiniest, simplest way—and it hurts to see it disappear. We grieve for our own loss, and for the loss of the people who took the time to bring that work to life. Eventually, we come to terms with the loss, but we do so in our own time, in our own way.

Personally, I think everything should have a Viking funeral, but maybe that’s just me.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--
Elizabeth Fazzio
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--

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