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The 5 Stages Of Grief For Finals Week

See that girl crying into her biology textbook or that guy whose eyes are bugging out of his head? You know what that means: finals!

It’s that time of the semester again, and everyone feels like his or her life is over. Well, you know it isn’t really over, but that’s how you feel. Everyone knows the stress that builds up during the few weeks leading up to your finals and lasting all the way until you get home from your last one. Then, you fall onto your bed and enter your post-finals, emotional coma of being done with life for a bit.

But just remember, amidst all the crying and praying and cramming, there’s always hope that maybe, just maybe, your professor will decide to cancel the final, even though you realistically know that’s near-impossible. But the hope that it could happen is what keeps you going long enough to at least attempt to make it through the week.

The emotional rollercoaster you experience during finals week is a lot like going through the stages of grief all at once and repeatedly over again, but just remember: the minute you’re done with these finals, you have an entire semester before you have to go through this whole thing again!

Stage 1: Denial

You can definitely go out tonight. You totally don’t need to study because you have a whole week until your finals and that’s like, forever. You can watch all three seasons of “American Horror Story” on Netflix tonight, you have a whole 3 days before your final and you can just study tomorrow. That cute guy from your math class asked you out for drinks tonight? Well, you have to go out with him! Who cares if your final is tomorrow at 2 p.m.? That leaves all morning to study, and cramming is the best method for studying, right?

Stage 2: Anger

OH MY GOD, HOW IS IT THE MORNING OF YOUR FIRST FINAL ALREADY?! How is this even possible? It was just Thursday and now it’s Monday?! You can’t believe how foolish you were for thinking you had time to have fun and still prepare yourself for your final, and you’re nothing but angry at this point.

You can’t even focus on the material you’re trying to speed read and cram because you’re too focused on how angry you are with yourself for not studying, with the professor and the school for making you even take a stupid final, and with the class for not being an easy A like you had hoped.

Just make sure you don’t Hulk out at everyone around you because once finals are over, you’re definitely going to be even more pissed if no one wants to talk to you because it was like PMS times infinity.

Stage 3: Bargaining

You run to Starbucks to spend your last bit of your budget on caffeine to try anything to help you before your exam, then race over to your final early to make sure you get a seat. Once you sit down, you begin to hit the bargaining phase. You beg and plea to whatever deity pops into your head, whether you’re religious or not: “Please god of sociology 3600, please let me pass this final and this class. I really can’t fail because if I have to retake this class, I’m going to lose my mind. I promise to be a better student next semester and clean up my act if you only make sure I don’t fail my finals this week. I’ll become a hermit who only studies and goes to every class early and does all my homework the minute it’s assigned. I’ll even quit partying and I’ll go to sleep early like senior citizens and wake up to go for a 5k run every morning. Just please, please, please don’t let me fail this exam!”

Stage 4: Depression

As everyone starts getting settled and the professor begins to hand out your scantrons and exams, you start to notice you’re feeling hopeless about the exam and the panic you’ve been experiencing has now turned into full-on depression. You’re not ready to take this final and you know it. You’re going to fail this exam, then fail the class, and then fail out of college. It was inevitable: you’re done. You know you don’t know the material. You start to imagine your parents’ reaction when they ask you how you think you did on the exam. You lie because you know damn well you failed but you don’t want them to know. College for you is over. Your life is over.

A single tear begins to form and run down your face, when suddenly…

Stage 5: Acceptance

The exam is placed on your desk. You open it to the first question and realize that it’s not in some foreign language you’ve never learned, and that you actually kind of understand it; or at least, some of it. You don’t fully understand what it’s asking, but you vaguely remember learning something about this in class. You remind yourself to take a deep breath – in and out, in and out – and you suddenly feel a small wave of calm wash over you: acceptance. You’re not as uneducated on this as you thought, and you may pull this off or you may not, but you’re ready to accept whatever happens (though you still secretly hope you pass it because who really wants to fail their finals after all the ridiculous amounts of work you do during the semester?), and you’re going to try your damnedest.

At the end of the final, you walk out of there completely confident in absolutely nothing, but you’ve accepted your fate and moved on to the emotional realm of “whatever will be, will be.”

You feel grateful to be done with finals, until you realize…

It’s only Monday.

You still have four more days of this.

Good luck, collegiettes.


During my time with HerCampus, I was a Senior at Mizzou, originally from the Chicagoland area. I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with emphases in Journalism, Film Studies, and Art, and I have a certificate in Multicultural Studies. I am now pursuing an MBA at another university. I like movies, sushi, photography, and Chipotle.   deenakahn.com
Sarah Kloepple is a junior journalism student at Mizzou. She embraces her addiction to good television and the fact that she knows way too much movie trivia. Originally from St. Louis, Sarah loves spending time with family and friends and stopping frequently at any good frozen custard place (preferably Ted Drewe's). When she's not with her oldest friend Netflix, you can find her typing furiously on her computer somewhere or reading a good book outside. Follow her on Twitter: @skloep.