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Monday, October 1, 2012

5 Stages of Grief

Courtesy of etsy.com

This weekend had me thinking about the 5 Stages of Grief. Let me backtrack a bit. This past Saturday was the 9 year anniversary of when my mom died. When she died I was the last person to see her. Now my mom had a habit of trying to shield me from things, but I usually found out on my own unless I pried and pried. So when she got sick and had to stay in the hospital I spent the whole time in a state of confusion. No one explained what was going on to me. No one took me aside and said this is what's wrong and this is what's going to happen. No one prepared me for what was coming. The day she died I had gone home to take a nap and planned on going back later to see her. And then I got the phone call that she had died. I made my way back to the hospital and walked through the sea of people outside of her room. Was the most surreal moment of my life. Everyone standing there looking at me and me wandering past them while every emotion ran through me all at once. I went into her room and said goodbye, and then spent the next few years trying to figure out how to feel again.

There was one point, I think a couple days before she died, when I was sitting in the family room while other people were visiting with her and I saw this pamphlet sitting on the table. The Five Stages of Grief. Didn't bother to read it because I didn't know it applied to me. Had no clue what these stages were and had no interest in learning them. Nine years later I've finally learned what they are and where I was in all of that.

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And I quote:
  • Denial - Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.
  • Anger -Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn’t attend the funeral, maybe a person who isn’t around, maybe a person who is different now that your loved one has died. Suddenly you have a structure – - your anger toward them. The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing.We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.
  • Bargaining - Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?”
  • Depression - Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing.
  • Acceptance - Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. (http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/)
 The first 3 or 4 years I floated between denial, anger and depression. I completely skipped over bargaining. Honestly the way they talk about the bargaining stage those thoughts never occurred to me. I had nothing to bargain with. My family had abandoned me, my boyfriend couldn't keep it in his pants and used me for a place to crash and money to burn. So what was I going to bargain for? Over the years I've finally started to stabilize better. Thanks to the boyfriend making a promise that he'd take me to visit mom and my grandpa every year. It helps that he knows where I'm coming from because his father died when he was younger. So I'm fortunate we both had our parents for as long as we did. But he understands me in a way other guys wouldn't. He can tell when the light dims in my eyes and the sad thoughts are creeping in. He knows when to hold my hand or hug me and remind me he's right there. And he's helped me move into the acceptance stage.
Courtesy of piccsy.com


Don't get me wrong my friends have been there to help me through these years. But it's different when someone else has the same hole in their heart that you do. There's two material possessions I treasure more than anything (I love my phone dearly but it can always be replaced with something better). The fairy necklace my mom gave me and my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. My little fairy godmother reminds me to have hope in the impossible and faith during my weakest times. And Harry Potter, well that was the last book my mom bought me so it holds a special place in my heart.  
My Fairy Godmother

4 comments:

  1. I lost your blog but now I found you! I'm so sorry about your Mother. The stages of grief are all so real. It was 11 years in July of my father passing and 22 years since my mom. It still hurts, ya know. But I'm at the "Acceptance" part and living life as they would want me. I love the fairy necklace! Thank you for sharing sweetie!

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  2. I made mom a promise I'd be the only one of her three kids to finish college and get a degree and I'm one year away from that so that helps. There's just so much anger and depression in the beginning and I remember being numb a lot just not wanting to deal with any of it. But you get to a point where you find a way to breathe again and keep moving forward. Brenda it sucks being in this club but at least we had them for as long as we did. I had to stop wearing that necklace when I sleep because I broke the chain twice but she's always with me. I let my mom wear that a few days before she died and it was weird having to take it off her, but it's a connection to her I'll never forget.

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    1. That's awesome! I'm sure your Mother is proud of you. I remember the depression more than anger with my mom. However, I was only 11. You are right, we should be thankful we had them as long as we did. Think of those who never know what it's like to have a Mother or Father. :( Hang in there Dee. (hugs)

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    2. Thank you one day at a time is how I keep doing it. I know she'll be looking down at me and smiling with a tear in her eye when I walk down that aisle in my cap and gown. It makes you value every minute you get to spend with someone you love.

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