The 7 Stages of Conference Organizing

the grief model


You will probably react to learning of the amount of work it requires with numbed disbelief. You may deny at some level the reality of the commitment you made, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.


As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs or shopping for yet more Apple hardware you don't really need but love to brag about.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you haven't been able to do for the conference and probably never will. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.


Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame on someone else for your having agreed to organize the conference. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

You may rail against being a dupe, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just take over the conference“)


Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of conference organizing, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your gullibility, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you wish you had done with your lost time and energy, and focus on memories of past moments of freedom. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.


As you start to adjust to life with your conference overcommitments, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.


As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life with your albatross of a conference. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life while you continue to grind your way to the conference start date.


During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before you agreed to organize the conference. But you will find a way forward.

You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost time and freedom without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

You have made it through the 7 stages of conference organizing.

See Also

Quicksand | Robot Chicket | Adult Swim