Everyone has that moment. That moment when you’ve just left the car and are about to step into your house or dorm. Or about to key into your office for another day full of uneventful work. You reach down your purse or pocket for your keys, and are dumbfounded when you grab a full load of nothing. Nada. You may be grabbing that old mint you left in there weeks ago, but no keys. We’ve all had this happen to us at least once, in many different situations and locations, but yet we all react the same way. Based on the Kubler-Ross model, here are the five stages of grief we go through whenever we lose our keys.
Stage 1: Denial- “I didn’t lose my keys”
“That’s not possible!” you think to yourself, as you check your other pockets. “Surely, I must have them.” Despite the fact that we are beings of routine, that we always put our things in the same place in our pockets/purses/bags for the sake of convenience, you believe that this one time, for one reason or another, you decided to switch things up. Why? Who knows? Maybe you were feeling feisty. Maybe you were bored with the direction your life was headed, so you felt that the rebellion of switching up the location of your keys was a minor victory in a world full of predictable mediocrity.
Whatever the reason, you decide to check every nook and cranny of your person, even going so far as to check the very same pocket again! Surely you must have not dug deep enough the first time. Maybe you’ll find it there the second time you look. Right.
Stage 2: Anger- “Why did I lose my keys?!”
Once you’ve come to the startling realization that you have, in fact, lost your keys, a surge of anger kicks in. First, you blame yourself. If only you had checked before you left the house. If only you had them in your hand the whole time, then you would always know where they were. If only.
Then, you blame others. You quickly think back through your day to figure out who is to blame for this scathing revelation. Your friends who invited you to dinner, giving you a chance to lose your keys there? The cashier who forced you to pay for your groceries, making you reach in to pull out money, taking out your keys in the process? Your significant other, whose couch may have decided to devour the contents of your pockets, never to be seen again? There are just so many to blame, and so little time!
Stage 3: Bargaining- “Maybe I can still find them”
Still holding on to that last glimmer of hope, you immediately begin to problem solve. The situation is not truly lost, or so you believe. Perhaps you can retrace your steps. Surely, you’ll be able to remember exactly where you last saw them. Maybe you still have time to run back and grab them.
This is usually the time when you wonder whether or not this is an issue that’s big enough to concede to a higher power. If you are the religious type, is this a prayer-worthy situation? You wonder if God would appreciate you using His time for something as trivial as losing your keys. Even if you are not religious, this is about the time when you wonder if this was some sort of predetermined plan for you to lose your keys, some sort of cosmic fate that would result in this scenario regardless of what you did. This is the time when you wonder what you can do to change your fate, to undo that which has been so unjustfully done.
But then, you get the startling realization which leads to…
Stage 4: Depression: “I won’t find my keys. My life may be ruined.”
All hope is lost. You’ve finally realized that you are not going to find these keys in time to open this door. Your life, just like your passage through this door, has come to a complete halt.
With nothing else to do but wallow in your own thoughts, you begin to wonder what really happened to those keys. What if you dropped them somewhere public? What if someone found them and now has access to all of your personal things? They can get into your house, your car, and that love locket your bff gave you when you were 14.
And what of you? Where do you keep the spare keys? Now you’ll have to go to the locksmith to make yourself another copy. Do locksmiths even exist anymore? You’ll probably have to spend hours at Wal-mart having to locate the locksmith section to make you a key copy! Dang it, are they in housewares or electronics?!
As your thoughts into your keys’ future spiral out of control, you are finally ready to move into the final phase:
Stage 5: Acceptance- “I lost my keys, and that’s okay.”
Finally free of despair and resentment, you finally come to terms with the departure of your keys. You realize that sitting around, moping, is not going to get you into that door. Now is the time to call that friend or family member who holds your spare to come get you. Or to call campus security to let you back into your dorm. Or wait for a nice enough colleague to arrive at work to use their master key to open your office. Regardless of what happens, you know you are going to be late. Late to work, late to that meeting, or even late to bed. But that’s okay. You’ve realized that at this point, there is nothing you can do to change your fate, but to get that door open somehow and solve your key problem later. You will live to see another day, and likely lose another set of keys.