My writing prompt for today says, “What is the hardest stage for you in Kübler-Ross’s model of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, or acceptance?” I think it’s kind of an odd question because grief is just hard – all of it. Every stage feels foreign and awful, and none of it feels like you being you. It all feels like some sad person is living in your body, making you tired, making you avoid people, making you eat chocolate cake for breakfast.
I don’t know how acceptance feels yet, but I imagine that even it will feel wrong in some way, like I’m not respecting my daughter or something. Maybe it won’t. Maybe it will feel very peaceful and loving and still. Maybe I’ll be able to be kind to myself at that stage. We’ll see.
Right now, if I had to choose, I think I would say anger and bargaining are the hardest for me. Anger is hard because I am not an angry person, and I don’t like how it feels to be angry. Bargaining is hard because I’m a very logical person, and bargaining is both completely logical and completely illogical at the same time. I’m positing all these what-ifs and playing them out to their logical ends in my mind knowing all the while that they are impossible and/or imaginary.
Grieving is hard work. From the outside, it might look like you’re just powering through all five seasons of Chuck on Netflix, but that’s just background noise. What you’re really doing is searching for yourself under all the crap that has fallen on you. You’re hoisting the big pieces out of the way and calling all your strong friends to help you lift big chunks of emotional iron, and after a while, you can hear a very faint voice that sounds like you saying, “I’m here. I’m under here.”
Even after you pull yourself out of the rubble, you’ll find that you have all sorts of bumps, bruises, and cuts (or in my case, stretch marks) that need time to heal. When they do, you then have new scars to get used to seeing. They will be all you see when you look in the mirror for a long time, but slowly, slowly, you begin to accept them and they become a part of you. At least that’s what I’m told.
If I’ve learned anything from the grieving process, it’s that grief is work, and it’s hard, and the best way to do it is not to do it alone.