The Five Stages of Drowned Phone Grief

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Atlanta saw a very wet weekend recently, and I was caught outside the whole time with my phone in the pocket of a rain jacket. It didn't go well. I discovered my fully-charged iPhone was dead when I got home. I'm not the first person to lose their phone to the rain—or a lake, or a dimly-lit bar bathroom—and I won't be the last. So, your phone got wet and won't turn back on. Now what?

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The Kübler-Ross model has long been used in psychology to help identify the emotions and actions of a person facing extreme grief. I know, I know. Losing your phone to a rainstorm is not even close to losing a loved one, and complaining about it is definitely worthy of being mocked with a First World Problems meme. 

But throughout the past few days, I've begun to notice that dealing with losing your smartphone—an extension of yourself in these hyper-connected times—follows the Five Stages of Grief model really closely.

Denial
You feel fine. Consciously, you know your phone isn't working. It's been sitting in a ziplock bag or bowl full of rice, not making a single notification peep. But you still can't believe it's happening...not to you. You'll refuse to accept the facts. You'll reach for it to check the time. You're still expecting your phone's alarm to wake you the next morning. But it won't.

Anger
Next, you'll feel the anger. Angry with yourself for allowing your phone anywhere near the water, then angry with others. Angry with those who have functioning cell phones. Oh, what you wouldn't give to play One Word or even make a phone call! They have it so easy—just lifting their phones to check hour or kill time waiting for a train. "Why me? It's not fair!"

Bargaining
As you come to terms with your non-functioning phone, you'll share the news on Facebook. "My phone got wet and it's not working. Send me a Facebook message if you need to reach me!" Then, your friends will tell supportive stories about how their phone came back from that time they were thrown into a pool with their pockets full. "The rice thing works", "Try silica packets!", they'll tell you. And with optimistic hope, you'll believe them. For now. You'll do anything to postpone the inevitable.

"Just hang on a few more months, until I'm elligible for an upgrade."

Depression
You check it every day. Pulling your deceased drown device out of the rice to check for a pulse, a vibration. The faint image of a once-bitten apple on the screen. But it's still not working. You've begun to forget what your ringtone sounds like. You're beginning to understand the certainty of your phone's death. You can finally admit to yourself that it's not coming back.

Acceptance
You can't fight it, so you might as well prepare for it. You're asking friends if they have a late-model phone to spare. You've started scanning online for re-sales and refurbs. You've finally begun accepting you'll have to replace your phone. And soon, if you ever want to call and order delivery food again. 

"It's going to be okay," you tell yourself as you scroll through spam ad after spam ad on Craigslist. You're going to make it through.

And this time, you'll get a better case.

(Image: Shutterstock, Apple, Gregory Han)

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