Most people have heard about the so-called five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - modeled by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. Even then, she clarified that these are not the only emotions felt during the grieving process, nor do they always appear in this order. It is now widely recognized that grief, for any reason - as a result of a death, illness, break-up, etc - is experienced with a wide variety of emotions, depending on the personalities and situations involved.
People were quick to remind me that I shouldn't look for these particular stages of grief after Mike died. And I listened to them. I didn't require anything from myself; I allowed myself to feel what I felt. I was told that everyone grieves differently, and whatever I feel, and whenever I feel it, is ok.
I'm glad for that. But I have to admit that I did, and continue to, experience many of these so-called stages of grief. She wasn't too far off the mark, at least for me, and in fact, reading about them has helped me feel - well, more "normal" for how I've dealt with Mike's death. It's an ongoing process, and I understand it will not be over for a long time - in fact it will never be over on many levels. I will always carry the memory of my marriage to this man in my heart, and I will forever miss his presence in my life.
I will always have those moments when I give a little start at some random thought realizing he's actually dead. I might be at the sink washing dishes and I have some memory of him in the kitchen with me and I stop in shock - no way. He can't really bedead. It's impossible.
I get pissed at him for dying. He could have, he should have taken better care of himself. We fought about food constantly; he didn't like western medicine and didn't like taking his meds, or even his supplements really for that matter. He lived life on his own terms, and we were denied many more years with this man we loved because of that. So yes, I am angry at him. Not all the time, but again, in random, unexpected moments, it hits me. Maybe I see someone at the store who looks shockingly unhealthy - way more than he ever did - and I wonder, how on earth is this person still here, and my Mike isn't? It's not fair.
I do find myself bargaining with my higher power. If I live my life a certain way, will I be guaranteed a long life? Can I be reunited with him after I go? Can I be given some special benefits in this life because he was taken from me so much sooner than I expected? I question my own life so much these days as a result of his death.
I'm not a depressed person by nature, but I work very hard to keep moving forward. I make a point to keep busy, make new friends and figure out what I want for a future - because it's obvious my life is forever changed now, in so many, many ways. But I am still sad a lot of the time. Probably a lot of the people I know don't realize that. I don't really talk about it much with them - most of them, anyway - because it's depressing. And, it's not their job. That's what my grief therapist is for. And maybe a little, strange as it sounds, blogging. It's kinda therapeutic to connect with others - it's both extremely personal, and also very impersonal, posting online. So there's that.
Perhaps surprisingly, I also have a lot of moments of acceptance. As I said - I'm generally a mentally healthy person. I realize the fact of the matter is he is gone and never coming back. I have a choice to live my life and must do so without him now. More and more of my moments now are spent in this frame of mind.
But not all.
Nowhere near all.
I have tons of other emotions too. Frustration. Fear. Anxiety. Loneliness. Exasperation. Emptiness.
Also, surprisingly, peace. Love. Enjoyment. Empowerment. Strength.
I don't have any answers here, or even a concise round-up for this post. I guess, it just is.
Grief just is.
He just was.
And I just am.