Friday, January 27, 2017

Grieving Is Not a 5 Step Process

Today, I want to talk about grief. Not for any particular reason, other than it has been on my mind.

There has been some popular idea, put on tv and in movies, that grief is a 5 step process and once you go through those steps, you will have successfully grieved. And it's based on a misunderstanding of what that 5 step process was about. It is the steps someone who is dying goes through. After all, it's hard for me to argue that Carrie Fisher didn't die when it's obvious that she did. I may say to myself, "No, this isn't real," when I first read about a celebrity's death, but that's more shock than denying what is true.

Grief, from the side of the person who survives, does not come all at once. It doesn't hit you just once that you lost someone. It comes back to haunt you, over and over. And then the loss is new again. And slowly, there are less things that bring the pain back as badly. You find ways to deal with the hard times and life continues, as always.

And sometimes, you grieve the loss of things instead of people. I've been dealing with a potential loss of my dream of being a parent. I've been dealing with this idea for a while, but recently it hit much harder and at a terrible time for me to even try to deal with it emotionally. I have to face the truth, at 36 it is unlikely that I will get to have my own kids and adoption isn't an option right now, and may never be a viable one. And it hurts so bad. As much as I know that it's a good thing, as any children would not be able to be with us right now, it hurts.

I recognize that I haven't faced much loss in my life. Not really. Both of my parents are alive and in seemingly good health (for an odd definition of good). One of my grandmothers has died, but the other is still alive. My siblings are both healthy. I haven't lost many extended family members, and most of those were through divorce, not death.

But that doesn't mean that I've never grieved. My junior year of high school, I knew 4 people who died. One of them was a classmate, one was a teacher. The other two were relatives, both old enough that death was less surprising. A year ago, my grandmother died. And I couldn't go to her funeral, because by the time I knew when it was, I was not going to be able to change where I would be in time to do anything. I lost the relationship with my mother, as unhealthy for me as it was. And I had to mourn the loss of the relationship I wanted and deserved. I still mourn that loss. Not as much as I did, but the pain is still there.

Grief is not a 5 step process. And we insult the grieving every time we pretend like it is.

Now, if you need me, I'll be over here, mourning my losses and trying to find my equilibrium again.
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