Why the ‘Five Stages of Grief’ Theory Is a Sham

2015 Global Thinker Hanya Yanagihara and writer Meghan O'Rourke debate the limits of pain, empathy, and romance.


In this week’s Global Thinkers podcast, writers Meghan O’Rourke (The Long Goodbye, Once) and Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life, The People in the Trees) discuss the difficulty Americans have when faced by other people’s pain–and how that might hurt the global response to a generation of refugees. FP story editor for print Amanda Silverman hosts.

Meghan O’Rourke is an award-winning poet, literary critic, essayist, and memoirist. She has published two collections of poems, Halflife and Once; her memoir, The Long Goodbye, was published in 2011 and explores the death of Meghan’s mother, as well as how Western culture deals with—or fails to deal with—death and mourning. Meghan has been an editor at The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Slate. She’s currently working on a new book about chronic illness, inspired by her own experiences with an autoimmune disease. Follow her on Twitter at: @meghanor.

Hanya Yanagihara is a 2015 Global Thinker. She is the author of the best-selling novel, A Little Life, which follows a group of four male friends in New York over a span of decades, starting in college. It was a finalist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and for the National Book Award. Hanya has also worked as an editor at Condé Nast Traveller and at T Magazine; her first novel, The People in the Trees, was published in 2013.

Read a version of this conversation here, which originally appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of FP magazine.

Listen and subscribe to FP‘s Global Thinkers podcast and The Editor’s Roundtable (The E.R.) podcast on iTunes.

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