The 7 Stages of Grieving

The 7 Stages of Grieving


Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman

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Themes and Colors
Colonialism and Oppression Theme Icon
Memory and Family Trauma Theme Icon
Feeling vs. Numbness  Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity, Pride, and Resilience Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The 7 Stages of Grieving, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Colonialism and Oppression

In Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman’s The 7 Stages of Grieving, Australia’s colonial history hovers over everything. As the action unfolds, the play’s lone character, an Aboriginal woman known only as “the Woman,” shares her experiences of grief and sorrow, evoking the violence and oppression that white settlers and their descendants have inflicted on Australia’s indigenous populations for centuries. Throughout the play, Enoch and Mailman show that the experience of suffering from…

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Memory and Family Trauma

Throughout The 7 Stages of Grieving, the Woman tells stories of how the various members of her family have been affected by trauma. This trauma has its roots in Australia’s colonial history and the ongoing subjugation of its indigenous peoples. The Woman’s stories highlight cyclical issues of poverty, isolation, violence, and shame that affect generation after generation of her family, and she explores how collective memory—while a source of joy and resilience—can also be…

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Feeling vs. Numbness

Throughout the one-woman show The 7 Stages of Grieving, the Woman reshuffles the traditionally-defined seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance. Rather than moving forward through these stages in a linear manner, the Woman vacillates between them—and though she ultimately seems to arrive at a kind of acceptance, that acceptance is not defined by peace, but rather by numbness. “I feel nothing,” the Woman says at the end of…

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Aboriginal Identity, Pride, and Resilience

Throughout The 7 Stages of Grieving, as the Woman investigates trauma, grief, and the ravages of colonialism, she also highlights her own journey toward self-love. The play’s experimental vignettes explore what it means to take pride in oneself and one’s heritage in spite of structural, institutional racism and the hopelessness it can create. Ultimately, Enoch and Mailman suggest that pride and resilience in the face of impossible circumstances are vitally important to individual and communal…

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