How to Grieve in Five Stages

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers, where every story is a surprise!

This week’s very unique photo prompt is from fellow writer Ted Strutz. Thank you for the challenge, Ted 🙂

The photo is filled with old, failed implements intended to contain the flow of water.  When they fail, it floods.

It made me think of the homeless population that lives and hides among abandoned junk. How might a homeless man grieve the loss of his lifestyle?

That’s the micro theme of the story.

On a macro level, how might any man grieve the loss of his lifestyle–and the very ecosystem in which he lives–in the case of a real-life, cataclysmic flood? I’ve written a few stories about this environmental scenario previously: one ended on the highest floor of a downtown condo complex, and another ended in the post-op ward of a high rise hospital. Apparently, my protagonists survive the watershed by seeking higher ground….

Now I will try to combine the above themes with a little dark humor and a Twilight Zone ending!

toilet ted strutz

How to Grieve in Five Stages

by Jan Brown

1. Denial

I was a climate change denier.

But when the big melt-down began, I went with the flow.

2.  Anger

I ran out of anger long ago.

First, when I lost my job.

Next, when my daughter kicked my drunken ass out of her guest room.

3. Bargaining

I was living in a crate when it happened.

The crate floated away, and I begged to camp in the library.

4. Depression

I flooded the world again—with alcohol and tears. Mostly alcohol.

5. Acceptance

I’m the only one left in the library. Or anywhere else.

Where are my reading glasses???


To learn more about Friday Fictioneers, visit our lovely leader’s web site, author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Addicted to Purple. To read more Fictioneers’ stories, click the link below:


33 thoughts on “How to Grieve in Five Stages

  1. Thank you for your new poem collections. I started with the haiku/senryu on the hummingbird pages. Lovely! Joy and Pain has a lot of pain. So sad. I’m going more slowly.


    • Thank you so much!

      The Joy and Pain collection is difficult at first but turns from dark to light somewhere in the middle, and ends on a strong note of faith 😇

  2. Perfection, Jan! I almost told a story about the homeless when I read this article about the homeless kits they give out on the street and that for many, just getting a spot in the shelter is tough, not to mention a job interview. You took me back the Twilight Zone with the guy who loves books and has no glasses. I’ve never forgotten that one! Great format for your story, too.

    • Thank you, Amy. I read some articles recently about solutions to homelessness. Two states have decided that the answer is simply: Give them a home. I think Utah is one of the states. They found that providing apartments allows the people to have a sense of responsibility and community, get into rehab or job training, and costs the state less than other services they had been providing.

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