Grief is an important part of life. Loss, regret, pain, rejection, shame, guilt, deception, are all part of our experience. I have come to realize that understanding grief and how it works makes it easier for me to navigate through all these awful, but yet completely common feelings. I might get stuck, I might need help, but this too shall pass.
Chapter 1.- Denial
How could this even happen? This can’t be true. When did you realize that you weren’t happy? Is there something I could have done differently? This is just a phase, right? Tell me you didn’t mean it! But you just told me you loved me! We made love yesterday! We had plans! Remember? What about Elisa? What about our project, the one we’ve been working on for so long? What about our art? Our love? You said we were together in this, don’t you remember? Don’t say you’re sorry – just – just take a little time… think it through. I’m pretty sure you don’t want this. We are happy. You are happy. We have love, and trust, and dreams. We have always supported each other, remember? If you jump, I jump, right? This is just a phase. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and everything will go back to the way it was. You’ll see.
Chapter 2.- Anger
I hate you. I wish I could erase your memory. I wish I had never met you. You are mean, and selfish, and ungrateful. I hope you regret this forever. I hope my memory haunts you. Do you see these tears? I hope you can taste them when you kiss her. I hope you can hear the sound of my heart breaking every time you hear her name, every time you listen to one of our songs, every time you close your eyes and remember the night you said we would be together forever. You will never find someone who will love you like I did. You will die miserable and alone and it will be your fault. I wish I could punch you in the face right now. Don’t you dare say you loved me. You never did. All you did was lie. It was all a lie. Every kiss, every word, every night we spent together. You used me. You took everything I have you and then tossed me, like a piece of trash. You left me empty and alone. Are you happy? Are you proud? How can you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you sleep at night?
Chapter 3.- Bargaining
What if? I can’t stop thinking about all the “what if’s”. What if I fight? What if this is just a phase? I can wait, I mean, we were a perfect match after all. I know you care even though you say you don’t. I was there. I felt it. I know pain when I see it, so I’ll just help you sort this thing out. I will be strong. I can be strong for us. I know I said some nasty things but we can do this, we can overcome this situation, right? I mean, you still go through my social networks and you are definitely trying to keep me in your life. That’s gotta mean something, don’t you think? “Will it ever stop?” The answer is no. It won’t, or will it? You don’t want it to stop and I don’t want it to stop, so how about this: what if we just stay ‘friends’. We can keep in touch, and just omit everything related to our relationships. That might work, right? I mean, I am fine… really.
Chapter 4.- Depression
I can’t get out of bed. Your memory haunts me. I listened to that song today and cried myself to sleep. Remember that movie? Well, I saw it. I had to drink a whole bottle of wine, but I did it. I read that letter you wrote me, went through all our pictures and listened to that song you wrote. I feel so alone. Everything bores me. I don’t want to go out. All I do lately is lay on my bathroom floor. I can’t even cry anymore. I feel nothing. I am hopeless. The things that used to make me smile now seem so dull. I’m unable to function like a normal human being. I just keep telling people that I am busy. When I’m not sinking in my depressive pool of apathy I am binge watching Netflix. I am afraid of confronting the empty side of my bed. I feel like a zombie. I try to go out. I do. But I just end up feeling like everyone is stupid and I can’t stand to see people having fun. Life is not fun. Life is awful. Everything is bullshit. People are stupid, I am stupid. What if I just stay in my bed? What if I just lay here and exist? Will anyone miss me? I think I might need another drink. But when I drink I just feel more numb. I mean, yeah, I have fun every now and then, but reality finds its way. Can’t run away from the fact that I am utterly unhappy.
Chapter 5.- Acceptance
Life goes on. This thing that happened was awful. It hurts like a motherfucker. We are over. Everything I dreamed of will not happen. You are gone, forever. You lied to me and I believed you. I was so afraid of facing the truth that I fell into a vice of self-deception. I covered my eyes and pretended. I was scared and lonely. You betrayed me. You betrayed us. But I know you were in pain. I can’t help you. Only you can help yourself. I have to take responsibility in all of this. I have to acknowledge my part and move on. It will hurt. It will be hard. I have to come to terms with my own insecurities and fears. I am afraid, but I can do this. I’m going to be fine. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe a year from now I will still be fighting this fight. But I have to let you go. I have to move forward. I need my life back. I need my happiness back. I need myself back.
We have all experienced grief. We grief loss and change. Sometimes it is death, sometimes it is a break-up, sometimes it is betrayal or our parents’ divorce. The thing about the stages of grief is that they come and go as they please. We get into this roller coaster of emotions. And it is hard and very painful. But, as my mother always says:
“The normal reaction to an abnormal situation is just as abnormal as the situation itself”
I love this quote from Grey’s Anatomy, it always helps me get through the tough days:
“[…] But Meredith will survive this. I believe – I – I believe in the good. I believe that it’s been a hell of a year, and I believe that in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we’ll all be okay. I believe a lot of things. I believe that – I believe that Denny is always with me. And I believe that if I eat a tub of butter and no one sees me, then calories don’t count. And I believe that surgeons who prefer staples over stitches are just lazy.
And I believe that you are a man who made a terrible mistake marrying Callie. And I believe that because I am your best friend, I can tell you this and we can be okay. I believe that even though you made this mistake, you will be okay. I believe we survive, George. I believe that believing we survive is what makes us survive”.
– Grey’s Anatomy, Drowning on Dry Land (TV episode, Season 3, Episode 16, 2007). Shonda Rhimes.
So tell me, how do you cope? Do you recognize any of these stages?
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