Denial: Don’t Look Now
The Denial Stage is the stage in which the mourning or dying will deny the reality of mortality: the fatal diagnosis must be mistaken, it can’t be so. It is not only the denial of the cause of death, but of the inevitability of death itself. One could argue that this denial extends beyond an individuals reaction to loss, after all, we have formed entire cultures and civilisations around the denial of death. Spiritual movements and organised religions thrive on the promise of eternal life, in one form or another.
Anger: The Babadook
The Anger Stage, in the Kübler-Ross model, usually follows the Denial Stage. It often takes the form of questions: “Why me?” “Why is this happening?” And tellingly, “who is to blame?”
In the critically popular Australian Horror film, The Babadook, a mother and a small boy attempt to live on, and continue their broken lives after the accidental death of their husband/father in a car crash. The mother, Amelia is worked ragged, struggling to make ends meet and deal with her disturbed and unusual son, Sam.
Bargaining: Never Let Me Go
Like the Denial Stage, the Bargaining Stage is a time in which hope plays a desperate part. With a gun to the head, one will offer anything to be spared the kill-shot. Like the life-long atheist who finds god in madness and desperation on his deathbed, we may change everything that makes us who we are if only the cup should pass from us. We will cling to the flimsiest of hopes, and beg for a miracle.
The Depression Stage is a stage of withdrawal, the stage in which the mourning or the dying may shrink away from the world, isolate themselves and become potentially self-destructive.
In Antichrist, controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier ( himself a sufferer of clinical depression) pays a twisted homage to the religiosity and visual style of his cinematic idol Andrei Tarkovsky by crafting a tale in which the inner torment of its characters have the power to change reality. The lead characters, known only as ‘He’ and ‘She’, are mourning the death of their infant son. The child had fallen to his death from the window of their apartment, left open while they were making love, unable to see their boy crawl onto the windowsill and stumble.