The 5 Stages of Grief….this is some intellectual crap that was pulled together to try to make logical sense from a situation and that makes no sense and contains no logic. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross developed these five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I am here to tell you that while all of those stages are real enough, so real that anyone can feel them in any order at any point in their life, not just with grief…kind of like a fortune in a cookie or a generic horoscope that applies to just about anyone. But before I criticize too much, let’s review just what these stages are*:
- Denial – Where the grieving wanders through life as if nothing happened or refusing to believe it has. This was more of an initial state of shock, in my case. I did not deny what happened. I was painfully aware, everyday, that my husband was dead. No denial, but shock, there was that…a kind of fog that surrounded me, making me forgetful, zoned-out, and wandering through the first couple of weeks in a daze. So if that is DENIAL, the YES
- Anger – This is where the person grieving is angry at the God, at the world, etc. This is the stage I thought I knew what to do with. I am good at anger. I can be productive in anger. But this is also the stage that never really came. At least not early on in my journey, not in any conventional way. I appreciated the people in my life, I was not angry with them. I leaned in to God, I did not blame. This was an elusive stage. ANGER, compicated, more to come later on this one
- Bargaining – In this “stage” people contemplate the “what-ifs” and bargain with the world …”if I focus more on the good or do better, can you make this all a bad dream?” (And guilt typically accompanies with bargaining) Honestly, I dont get it. BARGAINING, nope
- Depression – This is not necessarily the depression the mental illness (unless that is a part of your history) this is more of an extreme feeling of loss, and only natural after the passing of a loved one. This is the one that sticks with you as you figure out your life, your new normal, and it comes in waves. The kind that keep you on the couch all day, while your child is at school. The kind that won’t allow you to answer the phone and forces all your communication to be brief and via email and text. The kind of depression that keeps you up at night watching re-runs of once popular vampire shows that werent that compelling the first time around. DEPRESSION, check. Been there, done that.
- Acceptance – Learning to live with everything, the new normal. OK, really? As I have stated before, I did not like my “new normal,” and refused to accept it. And do you have any other choice by to accept that your loved one is gone? So with this one, ACCEPTANCE, I say MEH.
There is no rhyme nor reason to these stages. There is not defined order that they come in, no length of time to go through them, you can jump around them and move back and forth like a pinpall in a machine. Like I said, intellectuals trying to make logic where there is none.
I choose to discuss greif, not in stages at all, but as irrational mood swings that take over, not unlike pregnancy hormones, or better yet, drunk cats on an acid trip. One minute you are trucking along feeling like you have everything in order and you are making progress assembling your daily routines, and then the cell phone company sends you a bill for your husband’s cell phone, for 6 months of charges they say are overdue. Because even though you sent them the death certificate when you canceled the service, someone didn’t get the memo….and you may or may not be inclined GO OFF in an inappropriate manner on the poor, unassuming customer service rep who is sitting in a call center somewhere terrified you will be waiting for them in the parkin lot after their shift. Let’s just say, I started to, and still struggle with, operating in the extremes. Just to ease your mind, there was resolution to the matter with the cell phone bill….I eventually sent a certified letter to the CEO of the cell phone carrier….next thing I knew, the matter was resolved. Rational, no….effective, yup.
Greif is something that doesn’t go away…it just goes dormant. You are trapped in the “stages” forever. THAT, my friends, is all part of the “new normal.” It can creep up on you at any moment, and always in some irrational and nonsensical way. And BAM here comes the crazy. Welcome to my club, one that no one wants to join, and yet once there, they are members for life.