The Five Stages of Quarantine Grief
If someone had told me a year ago that I would empathize with Jack Torrance of The Shining or Chuck Noland of Cast Away, I would not have believed them.
However, recently, my home has begun to resemble The Overlook Hotel in the dead of winter, and I’ve made an imaginary friend out of an old volleyball (he goes by Wilson Jr.). Maybe I can learn a thing or two from those Hollywood characters on how-to or how-not-to quarantine.
I’ve since lost track of the days. New Music Fridays are one of the only ways I keep track of time. I’ve gotten several “Happy Saturday,” texts on Friday. Sometimes it feels like we’re in an episode of Black Mirror, and I bet there are conspiracy theories online that claim we are. Every week feels like a month.
If you’ve been sheltering in place, you’re most likely itching to get out of your house. In honor of this, I’ve written a self-proclaimed guide on how to manage the five stages of grief in quarantine. From binge-watching Netflix to obsessively cleaning out one’s closet, the stages of quarantine grief come in many different waves.
“Say it Ain’t So” by Weezer
First, we openly welcome denial! We’ve met denial before but never like this. We got news alerts, saw media posts, heard friends of friends talk about it, but we’d never expected it to come this far. Maybe we should have paid closer attention when the rest of the world was erupting in chaos due to the virus.
Denial comes in many shapes and sizes. We’ve all heard it and maybe even said it: “Dude it’s just kinda like the flu,” or “I’ll only be home from college for an extra four days.” We were so naive.
Maybe Weezer could lend us some advice? Maybe not. But this song was made to sing along at the top of your lungs, and that couldn’t hurt.
On another note, is it just me or does this song remind anyone else of the good ol’ days of playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band?
“Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani.
Yes, Gwen, this sh*t is bananas. We’ve had our fair share of tears and childish temper tantrums by now. The anger comes in waves, from listening to the news, watching crowded beaches fill in Orange County, or questioning if someone actually named their newborn baby X Æ A-12.
But let’s circle back to the topic of bananas. Banana bread seems to be the superstar of 2020. I guess all those overly-ripe bananas are being put to some use, and that might be what the world needs right now. Leave it to some warm banana bread to blow off a little steam. With this tune, you can throw it back to 2004 – before any of us knew of the grim future awaiting us.
“Can We Pretend” by Bill Withers
This is where lots of “ifs” and “buts” play their parts. Lots of questions arise in your head in the middle of the night. Absurd ideas pop in your head on how we can end this quickly. Really, it’s just glorified daydreaming of what could’ve been or what could be right now.
In honor of the great Bill Withers, wouldn’t it be better if we could just pretend things were the way they were? That sure would be easier. Withers sang it himself—“Can we pretend? ‘Cause honestly, reality, it bores me / Let’s pretend, oh, let’s make believe.”
Pretty spot on.
“New York, I love You but You’re Bringing Me Down” by LCD Soundsystem
One day we woke up and realized that the farthest place we’d be traveling that day was the kitchen. It would be that way for quite some time. No matter how much time we’d spend perfecting our downward dog pose or finally practicing meditation, keeping our “zen” (as my virtual yoga teacher would put it) would always be an impossible feat.
Unfortunately, no amount of baking sourdough or cutting your own bangs will fix the fact that this sucks. Every time we turn on the news, we see more devastating news about New York or other hot spots around the nation. It doesn’t help that the only connection you’ve likely had in the past five weeks is with your houseplants or dog. Any attempt at love has been diminished to pointless dating app swipes.
When friends or family call to check in, dialogue goes something like this:
“Hey! What’s up?”
“Well…nothing much has happened (literally)”
This could get dull, but if a song had the ability to empathize with you feeling sad or alone, this would be it. I wouldn’t be surprised if LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy ended up saving the world.
“Feel Good Inc.” by The Gorillaz
Let’s face it. We’re not going anywhere (at least for right now). So while we’re doing our part of staying inside, let’s roll with the punches. So while you’re at it, maybe take up baking (banana bread?). You could listen to endless hours of KCPR (always streaming live… you know the drill), share new music with your friends, learn French like you’ve always wanted to, or none of that. No one’s checking up on you. For all I care, you could sit on your couch and binge-watch Ozark or Fleabag.
The important thing is we that accept our duty to stay put in an effort to make the world a better, safer place. So thank essential workers, call your loved ones every now and again, and thank your lucky stars for having what you have (and now you have some more tunes to sing, cry, and dance along to)—that should make you feel good.
On a final note, here’s some extra “quarantunes” to keep you moving and grooving. The list below gives a lengthier soundtrack for your government-sanctioned walk of the days. Some songs are so relatable, it’s laughable. Maybe when this is all over and you hear these songs in the future, they’ll bring you back to your time in quarantine. Music reminds us that in a time when we are trying to understand the new normal, we can always find comfort in listening to our favorite artists’ beloved music.
“Living in a Ghost Town” by The Rolling Stones
“Every Day is the Exactly the Same” by Nine Inch Nails
“In my Room” by The Beach Boys
“It Never Ends” by Crumb
“Zoom Zoom” by Polo & Pan
“You Sound Like You’re Sick” by Ramones
“Isolation” by John Lennon
Also, feel free to slide into our DMs on our socials and tell us about what “quarantunes” have been helping you shake off your cabin fever!
Phoebe Townsend is a Cal Poly Communications major and KCPR staff member. She wrote the article. Renee Kao is Cal Poly Art & Design major and KCPR’s Art Director. She created the illustration.