The U.S. election is finally over, and it didn’t go the way most people thought it would.
Donald Trump is president-elect: a fact that’s left many who feared or fought against his presidency devastated.
We’ve all seen the pictures: teary eyed Clinton supporters with their heads in their hands, jaws slack, visibly shaken.
The reaction seems overblown – more fitting to the death of a loved one. And that may be because it’s the exact same emotional mechanism, according to one grief expert.
Jill Scott is a professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Queens University whose research focuses on social dynamics of grief and mourning and says the reaction to this election is something she hasn’t seen before.
“It’s definitely way more pronounced,” she says. “This one is different, it’s got all of the tenets of public grief and mourning.”
In fact, says Scott, we’re likely to see people publicly move through the classic “five stages” of grieving in the coming weeks and months: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
WATCH: Hillary Clinton supporters react to defeat
Scott says sharing these emotions publicly is much the same process as the personal process of grief, the difference being we’re not left alone with the feelings.
That’s a good thing, she says, because people can support one another and offer advice – and simply come to terms with their feelings and admit they’re real.
“When we’re going through those moments of shock, and literally, that’s what it is… shock, disbelief, and a very strong emotions of almost a sort of catatonic feeling, I think one of the key things there is to not deny that,” she says.
Scott says for those who are disturbed by the election outcome – either angry, afraid, or depressed – the key is to admit the feelings and know they aren’t alone in feeling them.
And she says everyone has a different way of coping – for some, getting together with friends for a coffee or beer; for others curling up with a book and pajamas.