Thursday, April 21, 2011

The stages of grief (reposting an old post)

(((I originally posted this almost exactly a year ago today, in anticipation of Cora's birthday.  Not surprisingly, I'm feeling the same way again)))

I majored in psychology for 2 years before I had to stop (I won't get into why I had to, but I just want to say it wasn't because I wanted stop, or that I didn't want to finish).  Anyone who has studied psychology even passingly has probably come across the Kubler-Ross model of the 5 stages of grief.  Now, many people try to use this as an example for people dealing with grief of the death of a loved one, but it doesn't really fit.  Ms. Kubler-Ross was actually identifying the stages of grief for someone who has received the diagnosis of a terminal illness.  For the death of a loved one, I actually like this one.

Either way, though, it's a bit misleading.  They outline a process where you progress forward from one stage to another.  When you move to the next one, you're "done" with the previous one, and at the're "done" grieving.  In my experience that's not it at all.  Each one of those stages is very valid, but I think I'm going to call them "phases" instead.  Grief has several different emotional "colors," and each phase is dominated by one of those emotions.

But moving from one to the other doesn't mean that you're "done" with the one or that they go in order or in any way that makes sense.

To me it's like the universe is playing pinball, and I'm the ball.
Something triggers it, and my grief explodes in an unpredictable pattern, going through one or another phase and not stopping at others at all.  Sometimes I can see it coming, and I brace myself, and I am lobbed gently through the pins, only touching one or two for a brief moment before gently coming to rest again.  Other times it comes out of nowhere, and I violently ricochet from one to another and back again, bouncing around, dizzy, and it takes a while to recover.

When I first lost Cora, after I'd recovered from the shock enough to think for a bit, I thought of the model of the stages of grief.  I was grateful for my knowledge, because I felt a little more "prepared" for my journey.

The universe has had the last laugh though.

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