The Five Stages of Southern Male Fall Wedding Grief

“We find a place for what we lose. Although we know that after such a loss the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know that we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else.”
-Sigmund Freud

I used to think grief was what I felt when I was in Jr. High and my 12-week old Shih Tzu puppy died at home while we were away on vacation in San Antonio, TX. We had had a pesky mouse in the kitchen at the time so the exterminator put rat poison down in the pantry, except the mouse never found it.
 
Because Nugget Frank found it first.
 
Therefore, at the tender age of 14, I was able to form what I thought was a pretty acute definition of mourning.
 
However, this weekend I learned that my definition was wrong. Glaringly wrong. I now know that the definition of mourning is a lost Football Saturday in the south.

I always knew watching football on Saturdays in the south was preferable; I just never knew it was non-negotiable. When it resonates with a man in the south that there is something prohibiting him from this day, several things begin to happen. Disconcerting things. Absurd things. Things that make innocent bystanders say,“Wait, did you miss the LSU game, or did Satan himself just call dibs on your firstborn?” because they truly cannot discern between the two events, due to your behavior.

But you know what’s worse to you guys than losing a Football Saturday?

Losing a Football Saturday to a wedding.
 
And that’s exactly what I had the incredible privilege of witnessing this past weekend in Alabama. (Fun fact: there was an actual moment on Day 2 in Alabama when I spotted the 174th Croakies-Boat Shoes-PFG-Chubbies combination walking around town and turned to my friend and asked, “Do they ALL look like that?” to which he immediately replied, “Yes, they do. All of them.” But that is fodder for another article entirely.) By the way, when I Googled “Alabama Frat Guy” to find a visual for their wardrobe, this came up:
 
 
So, good job Alabama Frat Guys. (And by “good job,” I mean, you were clearly getting undressed to buttchug, right?)
 
Anyway, the stages of mourning these men went through was absolutely amazing. Almost scientific, really. So, with a little extra research and a lot of first-hand note taking, I was able to outline what exactly happens in the human SEC brain when it is cut off from a day of watching beefcakes in tights.
 
1. Denial:
 
“In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, WHY we should go on.
 
The moment you first receive the Save The Date in the mail, you notice the date on the card and for a split second you think, “Wait, is that the day of the Tennessee vs. Florida game?” But this thought is only fleeting—such a silly thought!—as you immediately laugh nervously and say out loud, “No, no. It can’t be. No one would do such a thing.” You shake your head and put the card aside, chuckling to yourself at your momentary lapse of sanity. “No,” you repeat to no one in particular and a little too loudly, “That’d be crazy.”
 
As the day gets closer, it becomes more and more apparent that your friend’s wedding is, in fact, smack dab in the middle of one of your most highly anticipated games of the season. Still, you push this inconceivable abomination out of your mind and direct your attention back to your fake, imaginary football team that you don’t actually run but spend countless hours pretending like you do, inevitably causing you to neglect things that are actually real, like having a well-rounded social life, acknowledging that your girlfriend is speaking words to you, bathing, etc. (Read: your Fantasy Football league. Again, fodder for a separate article.)
 
“Towards the end of the denial stage, you are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade, ushering in reality.”
 
Now it’s about to get good.
 
2. Anger:
 
It’s Friday mid-afternoon and you’ve taken off work early to drive to the location of the weekend wedding. You think you have a handle on your emotions, but the reality of what you’re faced with hasn’t really hit you yet. You mindlessly browse Twitter at a red light and quickly realize that every tweet has #GOFOOTBALL Or #FOOTBALLROX or #SPORTS!!! attached to it (isn’t that how y’all tweet about football?)
 
To ease the pain, you click on your Facebook app to find everyone else—“the lucky ones,” as you start to refer to them—posting statuses about how much raw meat they are going to eat before the game and how many beer cans they are going to crush onto their foreheads at the tailgate. Everything around you suddenly becomes a giant, constant reminder of the torture about to descend onto you, and slowly your eyeballs begin to bulge out of your head just a little bit.
 
Research tells us to “be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless.” Sadly guys, this anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, your girlfriend, your family, and the bride/groom themselves, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this?” You might think it’s unfair that God is wasting his efforts on such things as Stage IV Lymphoma and child prostitution rings (but not innocent rat-poisoned puppies) when you are over here suffering so badly. So you do the only thing you can do at a time like this.
 
3. Bargaining/Sheer Desperation:
 
“Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only the situation would be different.”
 
An example of this type of bargaining might be:
 
“Please God, I promise I will never put alcohol up my butt again if you just let me watch the Tennessee game.”-The Butt Chugger.
 
“After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce.”
 
An example of this type of truce might be:
 
“God, what if I devote the entire rest of my life to putting alcohol into my mouth instead of up my butt? Then can I wake up and realize this has all just been a bad dream?”-The Butt Chugger.
(You guys, there’s still at least 6-8 months worth of Butt Chugging references we should all be making on a daily basis. If you aren’t making fun of that guy, you are wasting everyone’s time.)
 
4. Depression:
 
“After bargaining, empty feelings present themselves and grief enters on a deeper level. But, make sure to note that this grief is not a form of mental illness.”
 
(Really? It’s not? Can we get a fact checker over here?)
 
You might find yourself asking some hard questions like “How could this happen to me?” or “Is there even any point in living?” But don’t worry, this is all very normal (FOR A PSYCHOPATH).
 
You might not be able to make sense of anything around you anymore. You might be really confused, crying out things like, “What kind of monster would do something like this?” and then, upon realizing your friend was the monster who had a wedding on a Football Saturday, “Why am I friends with such a huge A-hole?” and lastly,“Why aren’t I wearing any pants?” Again, research has not proven that any of this is a sign of a mental illness (YET). And then we reach the final phase.
 
5. Acceptance/Savvyness:
 
“This stage is about accepting your reality. We must try to simply survive in this new world. Then, finally, we begin to live again.”
 
As if the dark clouds were finally parting, I finally witnessed the guys at the wedding coming to grips with things. They knew they couldn’t change the situation, so they sprang into action.
 
The same guys who didn’t even know their own shoe size were now morphing into savvy, resourceful geniuses right before my very eyes. Within five minutes of entering the wedding reception, they had already staked out any and all televisions sets within the vicinity of the premises. At one point, I couldn’t find my date for a solid 20 minutes, making awkward laps around the country club by myself on a legitimate manhunt until finally one of the guys felt sorry enough for me to tell me he was in the basement watching the games.
 
While it may have been only the tail-end of one game that they caught a glimpse of that night, the guys had succeeded. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t even think it would had to have been an SEC football game on the TV screen at that point. It could’ve been anything. A fooseball match. A Ukranian handball tournament. AN-Y-THING. As long as it contained meatheads running around chasing after a ball of some sort, these men were happy.
 
They had defeated the wedding weekend.
 
Hey guys, I really hate to say that your grief and coping mechanisms are a form of entertainment for me, but… your grief and coping mechanisms are a form of entertainment for me. Please keep it up—both the Kardashians and The Bachelor are on hiatus right now and life is getting a little mundane for me.
 
So here’s to more Football Saturday weddings! (Please don’t hurt me.)
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