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Looking for Alaska: 5 Stages of Grief

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Priscilla Cifra

on 21 October 2014

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Transcript of Looking for Alaska: 5 Stages of Grief

Depression
Miles' Grief Cont.
Colonel's Grief
"Where have you been?"
"I walked to Montevallo."
"Forty miles?!"
"Forty-two," he corrected me. "Well. Forty-two there. Forty-two back. Eighty-two miles. No. Eighty-four. Yes.
Eighty-four miles in forty-five hours."
"What the hell's in Montevallo?" I asked.
"Not much. I just walked till I got too cold,
and then I turned around." (p. 149)
Colonel's Grief Cont.
The Colonel pulled a cigarette out of his pack and threw it into the water. "For her," he said. I half smiled and followed his lead, throwing in a cigarette of my own. I handed Takumi and Lara cigarettes, and they followed suit. The smokes bounced and danced in the stream for a few moments, and then they floated out of sight. I was not religious, but I liked rituals. I liked the idea of connecting an action with remembering. In China, the Old Man had told us, there are days reserved for grave cleaning, where you make gifts to the dead. And I imagined that Alaska would want a smoke, and so it seemed to me that the Colonel had begun an excellent ritual.

The Colonel displays acceptance by creating a closing ritual for their dear friend. It was both meaningful and a peaceful moment, signifying the death of Alaska Young.
Miles' Grief
I stood up and stared down at him sitting smugly, and he blew a thin stream of smoke at my face, and I'd had enough. "I'm tired of following orders, asshole! I'm not going to sit with you and discuss the finer points of her relationship with Jake, goddamn it. I can't say it any clearer: I don't want to know about them. I already knowwhat she told me, and that's all I need to know, and you can be a condescending prick as long as you'd like, but I'm not going to sit around and chat with you about how goddamned much she loved Jake! Now give me my cigarettes."

Anger, usually following denial, is another form of being unable to face reality, because we, as grievers, simply aren't ready to. We become angry to express the overwhelming emotion that has attacked us on the inside, so we might find ourselves angry at inanimate objects, strangers, to friends, or family. Here, we have Miles going off on the Colonel, fed up with the game of chasing the dead.
Priscilla Cifra
Looking for Alaska: 5 Stages of Grief
Acceptance
" She's not dead. She's alive. She's alive somewhere. She's in the woods. Alaska is hiding in the woods and she's not dead, she's just hiding. She's just playing a trick on us. This is just an Alaska Young Prank Extraordinaire. It's Alaska being Alaska, funny and playful and not knowing when or how to put on the brakes.
And then I felt much better, because she had not died at all. " (p.140)
Denial is the temporary coping mechanism that people oftentimes go through when they are unable to accept the fact that they have lost something dear to them. Denial comes around to replace the reality of the situation. In this case, Miles tries to rationalize Alaska's death by labeling her death as a prank.
Denial
Anger
Bargaining
Colonel's Grief Cont.
The Colonel knelt down beside me and put his lips to the coffin and whispered, "I am sorry, Alaska. You deserved a better friend." (p. 152)

The Colonel shows his bargaining stage in his blame. He says how if she had better friends, she might have still been alive. Therefore, this quote expresses his secret plead to God.
Bargaining
"We should have stopped her," I said. (p. 145)

Bargaining is the stage where people start to plead with God, or whomever, They say things like "If only we had gotten help sooner.." "If only we had one more day with her.." "If only we were better friends...." They assess what went wrong, but there really is no use in doing so when the deceased have already deceased.
"You can't just make me different and then leave," I said out loud to her. "Because I was fine before, Alaska. I was fine with just me and last words and school friends, and you can't just make me different and then die." For she had embodied the Great Perhaps—she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone and with her my faith in perhaps. I could call everything the Colonel said and did "fine." I could try to pretend that I didn't care anymore, but it could never be true again. You can't just make yourself matter and then die, Alaska, because now I am irretrievably different, and I'm sorry I let you go, yes, but you made the choice. You left me Perhapsless, stuck in your goddamned labyrinth. And now I don't even know if you chose the straight and fast way out, if you left me like this on purpose. And so I never knew you, did I? I can't remember, because I never knew. (p. 172-173)
Miles is depressed (by definition) in this quote because he is mourning the loss of his loved one, and is preparing to bid farewell. (Psychcentral.com)
"So I know she forgives me, just as I forgive her. Thomas Edison's last words were: "It's very beautiful over there." I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful." (p. 221)

This quote is of the last few lines of the novel, and it sums up Miles' acceptance of Alaska's death in its most common form, forgiveness. It also concludes Miles' perspective on the labyrinth, and how his views differ from Alaska's. This quote is not the first time Miles shows acceptance, but I do believe this is the ultimatum.
Denial
Anger
Depression
Acceptance
" I am several steps in front of him before I realize that the Colonel has fallen down. I turn around, and he is lying on his face. 'We have to get up, Chip. We have to get up. We just have to get to the room.' The Colonel turns his face from the ground to me and looks me dead in the eye and says, 'I. Can't. Breathe.' But he can breathe, and I know this because he is hyperventilating, breathing as if trying to blow air back into the dead. I pick him up, and he grabs onto me and starts sobbing, again saying, 'I'm so sorry,' over and over again. We have never hugged before, me and the Colonel, and there is nothing much to say, because he ought to be sorry, and I just put my hand on the back of his head and say the only true thing. 'I'm sorry, too.'" (p. 143)

Chip expresses his lack of ability to breathe, after falling,, and continues to cry on and hug Miles. According to a number of psychology websites, depression is defined as the lack of motivation and the sense of hopelessness to continue living one's normal lifestyle.
The Colonel's form of denial, in my opinion, lies in the category of distraction. By definition, denial and isolation fall under the same category. The Colonel's coping mechanism deals with having to walk for miles, alone with his numb thoughts.
"We walked to the bathroom and turned on the shower, and the Colonel pulled a pack of matches from his jeans and struck a match against the matchbook. It didn't light. Again, he tried and failed, and again, smacking at the matchbook with a crescendoing fury until he finally threw the matches to the ground and screamed, 'GODDAMN IT!'
'It's okay,' I said, reaching into my pocket for a lighter.
'No, Pudge, it's not,' he said, throwing down his cigarette and standing up, suddenly pissed. 'Goddamn it! God, how did this happen? How could she be so stupid! She just never thought anything through. So goddamned impulsive. Christ. It is not okay. I can't believe she was so stupid!'"(p. 145)

As obvious as it is, out of context, the Colonel seems unnecessarily angry towards the match. then he yells at Miles about Alaska. Grief causes this outburst of anger as a release from the overwhelming emotions of loss.
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