9 Emotional Stages of Grieving the End of 'Serial'

Well, it happened: Season one of Serial is over. I'm not going to just come out and say that life isn't worth living anymore but let's not kid ourselves about the very real emotions that we're all left to grapple with in hollow, excruciating emptiness left behind. Serial was an interesting, and uniquely personal, experience for all of us for a few reasons: For many listeners, the examination of the death of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed has been their first real experience with podcast addiction. Sure, a lot of us have dabbled with the occasional episode of Radiolab or whatever, but Serial marked the first time that we all collectively obsessed about something the way we would a TV show or major sporting event or any of the more traditional pop cultural events that result in moments of unification where we all seem on the edge of the same seat. In fact, I've frequently made the comparison between the build up to the final episode of Serial and the final episode of Breaking Bad—lots of theories about what might happen, with even more anticipation that no one is going to walk away satisfied.

Which brings me to the other reason why there are so many genuine feelings of loss and grief upon the conclusion of our dearly beloved podcast: It's not a TV show, but so many of us became invested in it the way we have in the past with TV shows. The fact that Serial is a podcast means it was able to exist in a whole new area of our lives, possibly where we weren't used to having an engrossing, entertaining narrative. We're used to engaging in that kind of "let's get emotionally immersed in a story" thing when we're at home in front of our TV, but Serial, and the very real lives of the people therein, was literally able to be carried with us: We contemplated the lives of all of these people as we walked our dogs, or took the train to work; we only pulled out one ear bud while ordering coffee because we couldn't fully pull ourselves away. For newer podcast listeners, this new platform for emotionally compelling entertainment made Serial feel like much more a part of our morning habits and daily lives than any TV show ever could—which, in some weird way, made it feel all the more real that these were actual people whose lives were permanently changed by the events we were listening to.

So it's no surprise that this morning, after hearing the last installment of this season of Serial, we're all left with some shockingly real feelings of loss to sort through. This is what that process will look like:

1. Denial

Oh man, what a great episode of Serial! They really just keep the new info coming. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how these most recent developments mature over the coming episodes, which will continue next week, on Thursday, right on schedule, until the end of time. Can't wait!

2. Pain

Oh. This was the last episode. It's over. This hurts more than I thought it would. 

3. Anger

You know what? Fuck Sarah Koenig. Seriously, she is the problem here. She knew when she got into this that there was no way this story would wrap up with any kind of satisfying resolution. News flash, Koenig: We're Americans who like our entertainment tied up with a nice bow. Ross and Rachel end up together, etc. This whole ambiguous, inconclusive, "what is truth?" bullshit is not what we are here for. She did this to us, and she knew what she was doing, and she didn't care because she's a hateful, selfish monster. 

4. Bargaining

Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't mean those things. I'm upset. Here's what I propose: I will donate to NPR and use MailKimp every day and go to church and stop masturbating and help old ladies cross the street, and basically be an exemplary member of society if we can just have, like, 3 or 4 more episodes to follow the new motion to test old evidence for the DNA of Random New Murderer Guy. Deal?

5. Depression

The truth is, I'm not overreacting: This podcast really was the only good thing in my life. My job is dumb, my cat is ugly, no one wants to have sex with me, my friends are probably somewhere hanging out without me right now, and the only thing that's been getting me through the days is the anticipation of hearing the dulcet tones of Sarah Koenig as she laments the illogical cell phone records. It's all I had. And now it's over. It's gone. Everything I love ultimately leaves me. I'm going to die alone. I'm already dying alone. I'm dying. Right now. And I'm alone.

6. Nap

This is a lot to handle. I need a moment. 

7. Cheese snack

This is a lot to handle. I need a cheese.

8. Acceptance

Look, it's over, and that's alright. Part of being an adult is being able to accept the fleeting, intangible nature of all parts of human existence. Nothing is permanent, nothing gold can stay, etc. This was always going to happen. It was never meant to last forever, and in some sad way, doesn't that make what we experienced during this time even more beautiful? It does. This was v special, you guys. And now it's over.

9. Hope

It's okay. This is going to be okay. We lived without Serial for our whole lives before a few months ago—we can do it again, right? It's not like this is the only podcast in the world. We'll find love again. WE WILL LOVE AGAIN.

Images: Showtime; Giphy(9)

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