Having been through the grief process once before with the passing of my father 6 weeks before my wedding day and now currently deep diving within the depths of the Barrier Grief; I firmly believe that there is a vast wide spectrum of how people deal with their own grief. I have spent time recently researching the process of grief and there seems to be either 5 stages or 7 stages depending on which one you fancy.
The 7 Stages
1. SHOCK & DENIAL
2. PAIN & GUILT
3. ANGER & BARGAINING
4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS
5. THE UPWARD TURN
6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH
7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE
The 5 Stages
You can easily Google all this for more info but personally relating it to my own experience I don’t care how many stages there are meant to be because I don’t think any 2 people will flow through the grief process in the same way. For instance I never felt any denial about my loss. How could I be in denial as I knew it happened. Another person though may be in denial for along time depending on the type of person they are. I am a very black is black and white is white kind of guy. It either is or it isn’t for me and that’s that.
I think for me it was my father who pointed me in the right direction many years before he passed away. He once told me; and I can clearly see and hear him say it ” I don’t want you to mourn my death, I want you to celebrate my life… Don’t be sad about it, just try to be happy”. For some reason his words always stayed with me and came straight to the forefront of my mind when I was stood in a waiting room with Dr’s telling me my father had passed away. For him it was very sudden, no warning at all and I am sure he would never realise how his words helped me in that situation. In some ways maybe the passing of my father gave me the insights into Life and Death, how final it was, how so incomprehensible it can be and also maybe it was the start of me recognising how I can remain positive in the face of adversity. It somehow help me get through those difficult years with my wife.
So my father passed suddenly but Heln was totally different. I knew what was to come and so my grief started many months before my wife actually passed away. I watched as small parts of her disappeared gradually until there was nothing left. I don’t think either option is better nor worse but at least I got to say and do all I needed too. The fact that I have already been through the grief process already has helped me now.
I won’t lie.. I have been desperately sad with the loss and the grief. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have these times and feelings. However, what I am able to do is consciously recognise this and let it happen. I sometimes even put myself in that space. On the way home for work sometimes I would make myself feel the grief. I’d put the songs on from the funeral and fill my thoughts with just Helen, how sad it was for her and how awful it is for me and the kids. I would sob uncontrollably and have no idea what other drivers would think if they had seen me. But just before I arrived home I would pop on some up beat music and have a quick sing song to make me smile. I would then walk through the door to the kids with a smile on my face. I knew then that I had had my time of grief and mourning and I didn’t need to dwell on it any further that day. I think its a way of getting out the memory box of Helen’s sad times that I have stored in my brain, open it and divulge myself in it for that short period then put it safely away for another time.
Anyway my grief….
The most difficult stage of grief for me was when I chose not to think about it. I simply didn’t want to think about it because it was too raw, to hard to deal with and made me too sad. I knew that if it continued I would need to deal with it spmehow but at the same time I knew I needed to let myself complete that part of MY grief process
My Personal Grief points.
1. I accepted what had happened right from the time Helen Passed because it happened.
2. I have been desperately sad and felt/feel tremendous guilt although now to a lesser degree.
3. I have felt immense anger about it and continue to although to a lesser degree
4. I have now accepted what the kids and I have lost because I know she is never coming back. Though it doesn’t make it any easier.
5. I have accepted that I don’t think I will ever understand what has happened because it’s just so awful and that I will never get over it.. I will just somehow learn to live with it
6. I have accepted that life will be different. Not better, not worse… just different
7. Not sure yet because I have not got there.. Maybe rebuilding my life!?
But even though I have this grief and loss and only 5 month on… I am happy and I know Helen wouldn’t want it any other way. I have my health, 2 amazing kids, a nice house, a job, great friends and I can do whatever I want. The 3.5 years of hardship has redefined my life and now I realise even more so than before that I am very lucky indeed.
I am still pushing through my own process and I know I am still building my life again. I realise grief is just a process and no matter how much I talk about it or not it just doesn’t go away. Time will make things easier for me and I will just learn to cope.