so i study grief. literally my masters degree is counseling with a focus on bereavement (grief) i am excellent in a crisis. i am incredible at comforting others that are grieving. except when it’s myself.
in case you don’t know, the five stages of grief, as defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, are
though when most people think of grief or the grieving process they think it is exclusively reserved for experiencing a death. while that is the case a very large part of the time, it isn’t always.
a lot of you follow my story, my journeys through love and loss and everything in between. if you do follow me, you know that recently the man that i spent the last ten years of my life with, the man i thought was my future, came home one day a seemingly different person. he broke my heart more than i could have ever imagined. a lot of you know that six years ago, i lost my very best friend, and i had an incredibly hard time coming to terms with it. i’m sure that i went through these stages, but maybe i wasn’t fully aware because it wasn’t something i studied in such depth.
however, with this loss, the loss of who i thought was the love of my life, the loss of every dream i had of our future together, i have been able to identify each stage so far. and something else i’ve experienced, which is something i did learn, but never understood, is that the stages of grief don’t follow this neat little pattern. they come in waves. you think you’ve moved onto the next stage, and then, right when you think you’re moving forward, another big wave comes and knocks you down.
when things first happened, i was in extreme denial. i refused to believe that he meant it. i kept thinking he was just going through something and would change his mind. even though i would hear hurtful after hurtful thing come out of his mouth, i was still in denial that we would move on from this, stronger than before.
then i moved on to the bargaining stage. i am not ashamed to admit that i absolutely pathetically begged and pleaded with him not do this. i swore i would do literally anything on earth, including changing the core of who i am. obviously that wasn’t healthy, nor did it work.
i think the next stage i went through was acceptance. after weeks of begging, pleading, being in denial, a suicide attempt because i hurt so bad and had been told over and over how worthless and awful i was, i started to accept that this was my new reality. i think a big part of that came from the time i spent in the hospital. when i came home, i was oddly calm, almost to the point that it was felt strange and unusual to me. i felt like this for at least a week, and i started to think i was truly beginning to heal, that i had reached that stage of acceptance.
and then came a wave, out of nowwhere.
i honestly cannot explain why or how, although from an educational standpoint, maybe i should know. one day i was calm and almost at peace with the new path i was headed down. and the next, i was so angry. guess i was bound to get there sooner or later, since i sort of skipped that stage. i still am angry. i’m angry that my life and my future were ripped away from me without having any say. i’m angry that this man who has been nothing but loving and kind for 10 years has suddenly turned into a cold, cruel stranger that doesn’t seem to care at all. i’m angry that he’s trying to take away the home that i made for us, that i put so much love and care into. and as if that weren’t enough, i think i’ve regressed back into the depression stage. i thought i was healing, that i accepted it, and now…now i feel as if i’m back at square one. the hurt and the sadness are back for a second round, and i really, really wish that weren’t the case. of course i don’t want to love someone that doesn’t love me, but you don’t really choose who you love do you? wouldn’t that be nice?
and so these stages of grief, though they look so nice and neat and as though they should come in exactly the order the experts put them in, they don’t. that’s total bullshit. they don’t come in order. they hit you in waves. and even though you’ve already been knocked down repeatedly already, you still aren’t prepared when the next one knocks you down.
so today, it’s the anger and depression. tomorrow? who knows. but in the words of my favorite fish, just keep swimming. and one day, you’ll make it to shore, and you’ll look back at how far you’ve come. at least that’s what i keep telling myself for now. i guess only time will tell.