Dear Everyone, This is a sensitive subject.
Today, we are talking about grief.
As a lot of people know, in 1969 the famous Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross introduced and rationalized the five stage of grief in her book “On Death and Dying”
Those stages are:
While her theory became popular and widely accepted by the public, it has of course encountered several critics in the scientific and psychiatric community. Some specialists find it too restrictive or too simplistic. Some refute the idea that “stages” actually exist or that you should undoubtedly get over grief at the end of them.
However, her study is somewhat generally taken as a comfort, a hope that we can actually move on from the devastating blow that grief dealt us, a proof that eventually, we will be OK.
I want to share my thoughts on this with you.
I’m unfortunately very intimate with grief, you might say we are old roommates.
I have lost several people but the sudden death of one man in particular, one good, wonderful and loving man nearly destroyed me. I was fifteen and he was a pillar in my life, a brother, a father figure and someone I loved very much. To this day, I can honestly tell you that a massive part of me died with him. This is not a cliche but a sad reality. If I was to meet myself before his death, I would not have much in common with that girl. She would feel like a stranger.
Everything changed for me after he died, my view on the world shifted to a darker degree and my self-confidence shrunk to almost nothing.
There weren’t just five stages of grief for me but a hundred. However, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance were definitely among them.
My story is not everybody else story and how I dealt (and didn’t deal) with my grief is not how other people do it.
I can only share my thoughts with you all, in hope that it will help someone. Writing this is helping me.
I was in denial for the longest time. I feel like I spent an eternity in that state of mind. I do not know if you can call it denial or shock. My mind just refused to accept the loss and I remember going to school for an entire week as if nothing happened. No tears, no scream, no death. I was functioning but I was not feeling anything. It was bliss.
However after that numbness came the uneasiness… and then came an intense feeling of wrongness. Following that feeling was my inner struggle to stay in denial.
Until I couldn’t anymore.
It took me by surprise. One minute, I was walking among students towards my next class and then the next minute I wasn’t. I froze in mid-step and I forgot to breathe. I just broke down in the middle of the corridor and I stayed in that perpetual state of horror, of… of heartbreak for months after that.
I did not remember how to do the simplest things nor could I be around any children… just the thought of it would make me want to scream. Remembering how to laugh without faking it became a hassle. So did eating at least three meal a day. There were so many stages during that time… some lasting a minute and other lasting three months…
My anger was perhaps more devastating than my depression in the sense that it truly was what took the most out of me. It exhausted me. It emptied me out. At the end of it, I was just so drained. I’m still very much ashamed of how I almost let it destroy me. I never did drug or drank alcohol or hurt other people. I was too strictly raised to even consider those ways of self-destruction.
My mind and my heart were always my best weapons. It is fitting that they would become my worst enemies.
I was angry at him for dying. He never really thought about would happen to me if he was gone and why would he? He wasn’t even in his mid-thirties, he was young and wild and careless. For the longest time, he lived like he was indestructible.
I raged at him in my dreams and in my nightmares. My anger tainted everything I did, everything I felt and eventually, after I could barely recognize my refection in the mirror, I stopped hating him for leaving and start hating myself for being left behind. The survivor guilt is real, even if you weren’t involved in the accident. Even if you were miles away. Even if there is no reason for you to feel this way.
I must have felt the stage of bargaining for a couple of days only. It was quickly crushed by my guilt and that unnecessary feeling easily turned into self-hatred.
Self-hatred became the pedestal of my depression.
Years and years of depression, at least fifty cruel stages in it tearing me to shred while I endure my very own cold and lonely endless fall into a dark and red pit, filled with ghosts and demons. I won’t detail that part. Just know that I eventually remember how to capture starlight.
I’ve lost him at fifteen. I accepted it at twenty-three.
It took me eight years to go through this unforgiving journey of grief and I experimented a hundred stages until I have finally gotten into a place of acceptance and peace. Today, there is barely any sorrow, just… nostalgia… fondness… the belief that everything happens for a reason and the hope that he’s in a better place.
As human beings, we are incredibly fragile but also incredibly strong. We can endure of a lot and adapt to many things. Even if some parts of those eight years felt like my personal hell, I would not change them if I could. I think they changed me for the better. I suffered, yes but I recovered. The person that I am today is stronger, more confident and more open.
I was made anew and that was my silver-lightning as well as my singing nightingale.
I can only hope that everyone grieving right now will eventually get to that stage.
All my love,
- Featured Image Header: Credit and Source: “Fallen Angel” by Luca Romano. Please support the wonderful artist on their 500px page.