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Stages of Grief

By Lori Brower

Apparently, the experts have determined there are 5 stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

 

Apparently, I am experiencing them backwards.

The voices in my head are telling me that I accepted Nick’s death immediately, probably because of the long process cancer took us through.  I subsequently slipped into depression, for which I reached out for professional help.  I already used up my bargaining ideas, beginning from day one of diagnosis.  I am not one to hold on to anger as it is so emotionally and physically draining.  And, it really doesn’t do any good – what is, is – so what’s the point?  But here I was on Easter afternoon, FURIOUS!  Fit-to-be-tied.  Livid.  Irate.  Enraged.  Incensed.  Down right pissed off.  Once again, there was not a trigger for this emotion – very random, very intense.

We are in the tenth month of our year of “firsts” since Nick has died.  Christmas wasn’t nearly as difficult as Easter.  I can say that because Christmas was a good three months ago and Easter was Sunday.  I have neatly tucked away the emotions I felt at Christmas, except for how I felt every time I looked at his empty stocking hanging on the mantle.

Perhaps I was coming off the emotional high from the First Descents ball.  Perhaps it was because I was an Easter basket short this year.  Perhaps I am remembering our last Easter spent at the hospital when his physical decline was progressing so quickly.  I made a coconut cake and it turned out lopsided.  I prepared home-made bruschetta and it looked very peculiar, indeed.  I was completely out of sorts. Don’t get me wrong; I’m completely at peace spiritually with where Nick is now, especially grateful for the blessings of Easter.  It is the earthly peace I’m wrestling with now.

So, off we went to visit Nick’s grave – so ANGRY that as a mom, I had to go to a cemetery to visit my son.

We brought a blanket and the weather was spectacular.  Thankfully, we had gone to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform earlier in the morning.  The beautiful music still resonated in my heart, regardless of my state of mind.  I soon released the sobs waiting to come out and finally, the sun began to warm my body and the spirit of Easter began to warm my heart.  Nick’s grave was decorated so cute, I’m sure it annoyed him.  The best decoration was a lone purple crayon stuck up in the grass.  Don’t know why, but I thought that was terrific and I don’t even know how it got there.

Now that the weight and negative perspective that comes with anger has dissipated, I am looking forward to Kelsey’s softball game this afternoon.  I am looking forward to celebrating Carly’s upcoming mission call next week (now there is a Wacky Warrior!)  I’m looking forward to hearing the good news from our young friend, James, who is undergoing heart surgery this morning.  I’m looking forward to spending a weekend with Lee in early May.  I’m looking forward to the Wacky Warriors participating in the upcoming Ogden Marathon.  I’m looking forward to living again.

And, I suppose, “denial” is coming up soon.  Until then, here is a picture of Kelsey & Aerin, which kind of expressed how I was feeling on Sunday.

2 Responses to “Stages of Grief”

  1. Ron Nakamoto

    I can only inadequately imagine the traumatic and horrible experiences you’ve suffered through. My son is the same age as Nick was when he was first diagnosed with his cancer. Your story helps me appreciate the times I have with him, good or not so good. The way you regenerate yourself and find the strength and courage to move forward inspire and motivate me to do better myself. Most of all, living the “WACKY Way” and having these exciting, fun events to look forward to and give back; you and Nick are showing me how to live in a powerful, meaningful way. Thank you.

  2. Jay

    Hiya Lori,
    Years ago Nick tossed a rock onto a smooth pond, a photo you captured for all of us. When that rock kissed the surface of the water it kicked up relatively huge ripples, easily noticeable and spreading out in a perfect circle in all directions.
    I’m here to tell you that those ripples are just like the stages of grief you noted above. The first cycle of stages are really intense, easily noticeable, easily recognized.
    As the ripples on the pond spread, they get broader, smaller, even faint.., but they are still following the same cycle. they are just further from the centres.
    So too are the waves of grief as we pass through the remainder of our lives. 31 years and 19 days ( but who is counting) from our family’s own earth- shattering event, we still feel those ripples in the exact same pattern, they just move more swiftly through our own lives when we feel them.
    Here’s the good news, they are always followed by an sensation of warmth, and of deep gratitude.
    My Mom, had a terrific saying, a French-Canadian mish mash of words that really means nothing at all, kind of like ‘Oh Crap!’. The actual phrase was , “Ah, Bon Dieu ‘n d’Bin!” it’s uttered like a curse in microseconds. When we heard that, our family knew that another ripple had passed through her, really fast, as she recalled the life of her lost son, my brother. Always followed by a sigh, and great warmth and gratitude.
    So, get pissed, get mad, get angry, get depressed, get joyful, get filled with whatever emotion you want. Just welcome the experience that you had, and enjoy the warmth of gratitude when it finally arrives.
    Love from Jay and Anne and all the Paterson’s

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