Why the Stoics Think There is No Right Way to Grieve


Grief is an emotional response to loss that we think can be healthy and even appropriate. Epictetus and other Stoic philosophers disagree: they hold the radical view that there is no healthy way to grieve, and that true happiness depends entirely on the choices we make, not on anything that can be given or taken away. Many modern readers dismiss the Stoics as obsessed with invulnerability, but Professor Dan Russell thinks that this is too hasty. We grieve because we stake our happiness on things we cannot control, but the Stoics say that such a view of our happiness is ultimately what jeopardizes our character, our freedom, and even our very humanity. Whether we agree with the Stoics about grief or not, Russell argues, they do have a point about happiness that demands to be reckoned with.