Knowing someone that has died is extremely hard. It’s even worse when that person is in your family. When someone dies, the family is obviously going to grieve. While they are grieving together, they don’t grieve the same way, at the same time. For example, when my grandpa died in 2009, my grandma was in denial and carried on regular life for a day or two. She even did the laundry and ironed his clothes. When my mom found out about her dad, she went into depression. After a little bit, my mom got really angry and upset while my grandma went into depression for about two years. They were grieving together, but at different rates through different phases. They have both accepted the fact that he’s gone but that one day they will see him again, so there’s no need to be upset. In Ordinary People, Conrad, Calvin, and Beth also have to grieve.
Throughout this grieving process, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs comes into play. Every person in the story is trying to reach for self-actualization. For example, Calvin’s need of esteem showed when he and Beth were getting ready for the day at the beginning of the book. He was thinking about how he was orphaned at age 11, and thinking about all of the roles he plays as an adult. “Calvin Jarret, forty-one, U.S. Citizen, tax attorney, husband, father.” (Guest, 7). He also showed his need of esteem when he thought specifically about fatherhood and why he messed up with Conrad by not listening to him enough. “Responsibility. That is fatherhood. You cannot afford to miss any signs, because that is how it happens: somebody holding too much inside, somebody else missing signs.” (Guest, 9)