The theories on stages of grief are not going to come and hold your hand tightly. The theories of grief are not going to be there for you at 4am when you wake up and feel like smashing everything in your sight to bits. The theories of grief are not going to hold you while you cry so much your body shakes, you sweat and tremble and your eyelids swell to twice their size and your breathing constricts. The theories will not tell you that anger does not feel as logical as the word sounds, that one day your fist will clench around your trolley in the supermarket and you will feel this negative energy course through you that you do not understand. The theories will not be able to help your brain stop the invasive thoughts of taking your own life. The theories will not stop you drinking despite every one including a small disclaimer that you should not drink to get through it. The theories will not let you sleep or block nightmares or night terrors which wake you with a pounding heart and drenched in cold sweat. The theories will not help you understand why this has happened to you and they will not be of any comfort when you’re reading stages of grief, trying to work out if you’re in denial or anger when you flit between every stage ever written about and feel like you are losing your grip on reality.
Pain takes you by the throat and holds you up against the wall. There are days where I cannot walk, where my legs feel like they are made of lead. I am so drained and exhausted all the time, I never knew this level of exhaustion existed. I felt like I almost collapsed coming back from the cemetery the other day. Other times I just feel so tense, muscles clench up within me and I shake while this negative energy courses through my veins and I have no way to dispel it. Other days I would rather rip off my skin than feel this blackness. It feels like your senses are heightened in many ways as you feel the outside world is too much and you’re too fragile to be in it, yet at once your mind is clouded and foggy and cannot string a sentence together or remember your own name.
Most understand grief as a linear process, as if you go through stages one by one and at the end of it you reach acceptance and you are ‘recovered’. Most bereaved people will tell you this is not true; that your grief will be with you for life. The process is not linear, for months on end you will be a chaotic mess of every emotion you ever thought it was possible to feel. I am still there. Others who are bereaved in the same way tell me that one day it will feel less intense. They never use the words recovered or better, they simply say the pain will be less intense… and all I can do right now is put my faith in their words and hope.
Something about being a student of psychology meant it was the theory I first turned to. I started reading everything I could lay my hands on about the stages of grief because I desperately needed something solid to hold onto, for something to make sense in a world that had crashed around me. I have never thought of myself as a logical brained person yet suddenly it is all I sought. I read about the stages of grief and the words were meaningless to me. They were not what I felt.
No one tells you that the so called ‘anger stage’ isn’t as simple as being directly angry at the world or unfairness of it all, although of course you are… one day you will just notice this negative energy coursing through your veins and you will feel your body tense up and your fist might clench unexpectedly and your body will not know how to react. No one tells you that it hits you time and time again that your loved one is gone. It hits you on every level so many times. Acceptance is not as simple as the logical knowledge that he is gone. In your nightmares you will search for him as though he is simply lost, or as if he died but came back and you will scream at him in your dream that he died once already, he cannot go running because you lost him once already and you will do not it again. You will wait for him to come back in some form. Some days you will tuck knowledge away in your brain as if you can tell him about it a later date.
Every minute of every day something could come along and unexpectantly stab you in the heart with this fresh pain. It hits over and over and over. Six months on and it can still hit me that this has really happened.
I had no knowledge at all of how physical grief would be, I suppose this is why I have written this.
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross