In her book, On Death and Dying, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler Ross outlines the five stages of grief which she observed during her work with terminally ill patients. These stages normally apply to someone who is dying or someone who has a loved one who has died, but grief doesn't have to mean death. Sometimes grief can come from any extremely stressful or upsetting situation. One very awful situation that many college students may have to deal with is their flight being cancelled. This pain is even more heightened when it is their flight home and they have an even longer time before they get to see their friends and family. While it definitely isn't the same (or nearly as bad) as losing a loved one, Dr. Kubler Ross's five stages can be applied to this type of grief.
When you first hear that your flight home has been cancelled, your first thought is, "This can't be happening." You don't want to believe it. You may not want to do anything about your cancelled flight because that will only make you have to admit the truth. You were supposed to fly home today. You wonder, "How can they just cancel?"
After you finally come to terms with the fact that you're not flying home when you originally planned, you get angry. You're mad at the airline company, you're mad at the weather, you're mad at everyone whose flight is on schedule, but most importantly you're just mad in general. While your temper may be flaring on the inside, it is important not to take your anger out on any of the flight attendants or gate agents, since they had no say in whether your flight was cancelled or not.
Now comes the part where you have to reschedule. Usually you'll be sent to the front desk or a gate agent for your airline in order to book yourself on a new flight. At this time you have to try to work out a deal to get yourself on the soonest flight as possible. This ordeal can be very frustrating, especially if the earliest flight isn't until the next day. All you can do is hope you get a good bargain when it comes to switching flights.
It hits you: the fact that you have to wait even longer to see your friends and family from back home. It really starts to sink in how much you miss them. All you want is your best friend and/or your pet, but unfortunately you're stuck in an airport. After bargaining, you did manage to find a new way home, but you're still just sad that it has to be at a later time.
It takes different people different amounts of time to reach this conclusion, but eventually you will accept the fact that your flight was cancelled. You can recognize that it is not fair and that it makes you very upset, but you also can recognize that there is nothing you can do about it, and there are far worse things to be upset about. Whether your flight was cancelled due to inclement weather conditions or a faulty plane, you realize that you would rather be on a safe flight at a later time than risk your chances flying with either of those things going on.
Airlines can be a hassle, and grief is a natural response to flight changes. Safe travels!
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