How to Cope With Bernie Sanders Not Becoming the Presidential Nominee


This week, Hillary Clinton became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders supporters are feeling the Bern — of tears, that is. 

Mourning Bernie's loss like the death of a grandfather? Some may find that over-the-top. 

Believe it or not, it's normal. According to grief counselor Deborah S. Derman. The downfall of a favorite political candidate "has great parallels to the type of loss we experience when losing someone through a divorce or a death," she said in an emailed statement.

Grief can occur when people work hard for a certain outcome — such as a future that excites them — and it doesn't come to fruition, according to Derman.

"This type of grief is like the death of a dream and a life that we hoped to have, which we consider to be the best life," Derman said. "It's like something has been thrust upon you without your permission, taking away your choice and forcing you to accept it."

In the wake of Sanders' defeat, she's observed this type of grief in her own patients. 

"There's a sense of despair around this loss," Derman said, "because people had high hopes that things would be different this time."

John Locher/AP

How to cope with Sanders-related grief

The first step, according to Derman, is understanding that no matter how hard we work and no matter how badly we want something, events don't always play out in our favor. Our dream presidential candidates don't always get elected, or even win the primaries. It's disappointing, but it's the way the world works. 

For folks who are sad over Sanders' loss, Derman suggests they continue creating their ideal future, despite the obvious setbacks.

"The setbacks are a natural part of life, and there are still choices we can make," she said. "Do we leave the country, or do we continue to work for the kind of life we want?"

With all forms of loss — be it death or political defeat — "there are answers and things we can do," Derman said. "We should not give up the hopes or belief that our lives or our country will ultimately be alright."