So as many of you know I have been working through the grieving process. In sociology courses, we cover the five stages of grief as presented by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. Briefly, the stages presented in that book include: (1) denial and isolation, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, and (5) acceptance. These “stages” are as I tell students, a guideline. While grief and mourning may be universal across cultures and geographies, how we grieve is not as universal as one might think. For example, it is not necessary to go through all five stages. Sometimes people hit three or four of the stages and skip others. Additionally, it is not necessary to experiences the stages in order. It is not uncommon for people to start with depression, move to isolation, the anger and so on. The key to understanding these stages is to give your bereavement process perspective; to know where you are in the process.
My Mama has been gone four weeks now. I have experienced depression at the thought of not having her around to answer questions; no more hugs, no more smiles, no more support, no more encouragement, no more. I then went through the bargaining stage. This is an interesting stage. It is not so much bargaining with a higher power because I know she is gone and no amount of bargaining with a higher power will bring her back. Instead, the bargaining stage was more like, I wish I had… If I had known… Here’s the thing, I have been focused on reducing my footprint for the past two years. Steadily, I have reduced “things” from my life. The bargaining stage for me looked more like this, “It’s all just junk and I would give away everything I have just to have her back.” Then, more recently, I experienced the stage of denial and isolation or more specifically, isolation. I traveled hundreds of miles alone. I isolated myself from people and surrounded myself in nature. Driving through Nevada deserts I talked with Mama, with God, with Nature. I shared my feelings, I cried, I smiled. I smiled knowing that Mama is safe and happy and whole now. I smiled realizing that she is no loner coughing and struggling to breathe. I smiled knowing she is reunited with her Mama. I needed that time alone. I am not angry and have not experienced anger in my grief. I don’t like anger and can’t imagine it being a necessary part of my grieving process, but we shall see. I also know that at some point I will reach acceptance. For now, I am grateful for time alone and grateful for time with loved ones.
Have you lost a loved one? How did you experience the stages? I welcome your comments.
Peace and Love,