Letters of Grieving

There are five stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  There seems to be an underlying implication that the stages are linear, that you move from denial, to anger, to bargaining, to depression and acceptance.  What I have found that you move in and out and around the stages, over and over.  I may think I have reached a stage of acceptance, but then something will throw me back into “WHY did this happen?”

Like July 21st.  The day came and went, unnoticed by me.  But on July 23rd, I was struck with the realization “I should have a baby by now.”  My due date was July 28.  C-section would have been planned a week in advance, so July 21.  The pain was aching and empty, and any thoughts of acceptance I had went spiraling backwards into anger and depression.

So I have created my own: six letters of grieving.

A: Annihilation:  In an instant, your world changes, and it is never the same again.  You will be lost, you will be isolated.  Eventually, you will learn how to navigate, but it can never go back to what it was before.

B: Breathing:  Inhales and exhales change.  Breathing in becomes difficult at times.  Breathing hurts sometimes.  Through sobs it becomes hard to breathe.  When triggers appear from nowhere, you have to take a deep breath.  Sometimes, you feel like you cannot breathe.  But breathing is essential to living, and so it continues.

C: Coping.  The mind forms mechanisms for coping – whether it is denial, change, habits, words, or actions.  I place no judgment on anyone’s methods for coping, nor is there any expectation of time frame.  For people that become destructive in their coping mechanisms, I can understand.  I want them to find all of the love and support they need to move from destructive to constructive coping mechanisms.

D:  Disbelief.  It is startling to realize that others cannot begin to understand what you are going through, unless they have experienced such a loss themselves.  So then on top of dealing with loss, you deal with others’ expectations around loss.  It is an incomprehensible burden.

E:  Expected and Unexpected. There are the expected moments that will hurt.  There are the unexpected moments that will hurt.  Expected moments are the birthdays, anniversaries, photos.  Unexpected moments will be the random Tuesday when you read or see something that hits you sideways and you think “I was not prepared for this right now.” Then you struggle with giving in to the moment, versus finding a way to blow past it rather than let it give you an emotional slap in the face.

F: Forward Motion.  Undeniably, the world keeps moving.  You will move in and out of the letters of grieving, over and over.  But the world moves forward and the most acknowledgment you can give your own life is to keep moving with it.  No expectations.  No judgments.  Just moving forward.