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Who Do You Trust More? Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Or Randy Milholland?

So the theory is that people go through stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Dunno if you buy it or not, but I got to thinking about it today because of what’s been going on over at Something Positive for the last couple of days. It started, of course, when Faye died in her sleep and the reality of it hit Fred. It’s hard to tell how much time goes by between panels 6 and 12, but it doesn’t look like much. And Randy Milholland has always portrayed Fred as ultimately a realist (sarcastic, slightly evil, explosive, and grouchy, but ultimately a realist), so it’s not surprising that he seems to skip at least denial and anger.

Today, he’s seemingly even further into acceptance. Mind you, I’m not a clinical shrink of any sort, but while his very soul seems to be slump-shouldered, he honestly seems happy for what he had and fully mindful of what he lost. Of course, he’s not really one given to bargaining, is he?

Naturally, the initial shock of his loss may be masking a long-term journey to dealing with Faye’s demise. We haven’t really seen this done at length in webcomics before, but it has been handled (from a different perspective) on the newspaper comic page. Over in Doonesbury, BD lost a leg in Iraq and also skipped a stage, but has spent much of the past two years wildly careening back and forth in a state of emotional imbalance. Hopefully, Milholland’s ear for his characters will match Trudeau’s, and we’ll see a journey that’s portrayed intelligently, sensitively, and with humor.

Arguably, what we’re seeing here could actually be his denial stage. Putting a positive face on a bad situation may not deny the facts of the situation, but it’s certainly a way of denying the larger consequences. In this way, the first and last stages of grief can be look uncomfortably similar.

I’m really tempted to make some shallow joke about grief, but that seems inappropriate.

I thought the “stages of loss” theory had been debunked long ago. Is that not the case?

Just for what it’s worth, therapists (my wife is one) don’t expect people to go straight through the stages in the “correct” order. While the stages represent the pattern people generally go through, a particular person can jump forward, backslide, or go through stages more than once.

I’m not saying the theory’s bad, but the social sciences don’t do as well at predicting a specific person’s actions as understanding general human tendencies.

In short, Randy Milholland can do whatever he wants.

Cough. You know, I don’t recall this sort of attention when I killed off my female lead. And I did it waaaaay before Milholland did. And do I get any credit for being a pioneer in the Dead Women In Web Comics field? No. None.


Quiet, Chris, or we’ll all start reading Jeff instead.

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