The first stage of grief is denial that calories still exist while you are grieving. Either you will have no appetite, or you will eat junk. You will want to eat fried potatoes in some form almost every day. You will eat all the food that your wonderful friends bring you. You will not step on a scale or even attempt to wear any real pants. When you finally give in and buy an air fryer for all the potatoes you want to eat, you have moved on to the “air fried” stage of denial, where you insist you’re eating healthy.


The next stage is anger that your phone keeps assuming that you want to call or text your loved one who recently died, which is obviously something you can’t do anymore—but you don’t know how to change the setting that is causing this to happen, and you don’t want to delete your loved one’s contact information in your phone. You will be tempted to throw your phone in the toilet. This will result in more anger, and the cycle begins anew.


During the bargaining phase, you realize you can still be on the hunt for a good deal, even when coping with a horrible situation. Did you know Costco sells caskets? Where else can you get four pounds of pretzels and a casket? Want to forgo the casket? Consider cremation. Do you know how much cremation costs? Be prepared for sticker shock. Maybe it’s time to sharpen those haggling skills.


You will get depressed over how terrible you look because no amount of eye cream, concealer, or eye drops can reduce the puffiness of your eyes. You will desperately want to get a haircut but don’t know how to face the inevitable “Did you have a good holiday season?” chitchat without blurting out, “Actually, my sister died three days before Christmas; Christmas was also my deceased father’s birthday, so it was already a difficult occasion. How was your holiday?” Then you’ll be depressed over making someone else feel depressed. Try to save face by saying, “And how about this weather!? Can you even believe the sun continues to rise each day?”


During this phase of grieving, all books, movies, television shows, songs on the radio, and dog food commercials will make you cry, no matter how stupid or innocuous they may seem. You’ll be flattened by sheer exhaustion and unable to do anything but lie in bed and watch cheesy movies (all of which seem to have Hugh Grant in them for some reason) and cry for several days.


You will only want to wear clothing from L.L. Bean. You will acquire a very snuggly blanket from L.L. Bean, and you will also purchase flannel sheets because you are still spending a lot of time in bed watching Hugh Grant movies (he’s pretty delightful in Paddington 2).


You will listen to Prince on repeat, but to be honest, you sometimes do that anyway. Then you remember that your deceased loved one loved Prince too, and before you know it, you’re sobbing to “Raspberry Beret” in the middle of the supermarket. This is your new normal.


You will be desperate to do something fun and take your mind off things. This will result in an inexplicable compulsion to sign up for an improv comedy class. Yes, and your loved one is still dead, but at least you now know how to pretend to be someone who didn’t just eat two pounds of air-fried potatoes.


You will accept that since you had to travel at the last minute on a very crowded airplane during peak travel/cold/flu/COVID-19 season and the weather was awful, you might come down with a cold, the flu, COVID-19, or all of those things. Also, your credit card bill will be about two thousand dollars higher than you thought, even with that discount casket, but there is nothing to do but accept it and pay the bill.