Smith: The five stages of grieving the Bad Guru |

Smith: The five stages of grieving the Bad Guru

Barry Smith

Dear Bad Guru:

What happens to me after I die?


Feeling My Mortality

Dear Mort,

Alas, that’s a question that even the Bad Guru can’t answer.

However, I can tell you what happens to you after I die. Should you be unfortunate enough to outlive me, it could very well prove to be one of the hardest situations you’ll face in life. You can expect to go through five distinct stages, which will begin immediately after hearing of my demise. (Note: I generally like to avoid plugging my own products in this column, but it should be noted that the following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, “Don’t Outlive Your Guru, and Other Incredibly Specific Advice.”)

1. Denial. “This can’t be happening. Nope. La la la la la. These are not the droids you’re looking for. Who wants gum?” Denial is our body’s built-in defense mechanism for all things unpleasant. Often, people get stuck in this stage, which is understandable, as it can be a very pleasant place to be. As cushy as it is, it’s best to move forward and start facing the situation head on. This allows you to avoid denial-related complications (West Denial Virus, for example) and also keeps you from missing out on all the fun of Stage 2.

2. Anger. “My goodness, I am really quite angry. I may even be furious. Etc.” This one is a favorite of mine because anger has a certain spiritual quality That often is overlooked or misunderstood. Jesus was the original table-flipper, after all. You’ll certainly be having some “Why me?” thoughts after the news of my passing starts to sink in. (Strange, as this is really a question that I should be asking.) Anger, if not moved through your body, can become stagnant and toxic. Physical movement is a good way to keep the energy flowing. There are still a few copies of my workout book, “30 Days to Washboard Chakras,” left in stock. There probably won’t be a reprinting of this book in its current form, given the Catholic Church’s rather vocal opposition to some of the included exercises.

3. Bargaining. “No, please — take me instead. Or something.” At this stage you’ll start offering up nonsensical bartering chips to attempt to stave off the harsh truth of the situation. You’ll think, “No, he can’t be gone. Perhaps if I go to his website right now and buy several copies of his New Age Times best-selling book, ‘GURU in the Kitchen: From Satori Sautees to Karma Cakes,’ this will all prove to be just a dream.”

4. Depression. “Man, I am so bummed out. I’m never gonna wear my Gurupalooza ’99 T-shirt again, even though they’re currently only $5 if you purchase $50 worth of other merchandise from the secure website.” This stage makes life feel hopeless and pointless. Which is understandable because, hey, I’m dead, and that sucks for you. Depression can be the hardest of the stages to get through, mostly because of how depressing it is. But hang in there; you’re almost home.

5. Acceptance. “Oh, well. Whatever. So what. Guru who? I don’t care.” No, that’s not acceptance. That’s denial masquerading as acceptance. Try again.

5. Acceptance. “Hey, every little thing gonna be alright. Plus, I can always pop in a copy of my ‘Gurus Without Borders: Bad Guru Live at Brixton’ DVD. An actual DVD. One that I bought from the website. Not an illegally downloaded copy.” There, that’s better. All done.

Dear Bad Guru,

I see that you gave that previous question a big, elaborate answer. I have an important question, too, one that’s also worthy of such a detailed response, but it doesn’t look like you’ve left enough room in your allotted column space to give it the attention it deserves. In fact, we’re so close to the end that I can’t imagine you answering my question in anything other than a quick, dismissive manner. Is this fair?


Perplexed but Persevering

Dear P,


Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays. Ask Bad Guru a question at

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