When it comes to the loss of my Patrick, my pain is real; my perpetual state of misery is real, my gut wrenching feeling of losing my twin flame, my soulmate is real. But where do these so called 5 stages of grief actually fit into the picture?
It took some reflection for me to truly understand the meaning behind the stages of grief as it relates to my particular situation. When I took a step back to reveal how I really feel and why, I have come to the realization that my denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance has nothing to do with Patrick and everything to do with the external forces I could not hold at bay.
For me there are a myriad of events that have compounded my grief, interrupted my healing, and made an effort to consume my bleak existence. I visualize it as the never ending loop de loop ride of wretchedness. They didn’t come in linear steps, but they did come as ebbs and flows through the stages, some through all of them, some through a few of them, some have hit a speedbump and have completely derailed.
Let’s explore and see if any of these events sound similar, that maybe you have experienced too…
I sat in denial that my favorite nephew, the one I favored the most in the family has yet to even acknowledge Patrick’s death. This isn’t a child; this is a 36 year old doctor, who never called, texted, sent flowers or a card, showed up – nada! When I asked my brother, his father about it, he responded that Danny was traveling at the time; I of course then went into a monolog of the very definition of why they call them mobile phones. This denial flowed into bargaining with my own cell phone, did I not see the message? Surely there must be an email or a missed call, I’ll restart the phone and his message will magically appear; I’ll go back through the cards again maybe I didn’t see it through my tears – nada! Anger soon came with a fury and while I accept the fact today that my relationship with my nephew is gone forever, the speedbump of anger still reigns supreme and trades with the depression of maybe I thought our relationship was more than it really was. After all, Patrick will not die a second time, there are no words he could ever utter that would bring me to an understanding; there is nothing that can be said or done to get me to forgive him that in my darkest moments he was totally MIA.
Then there is my family and what I thought was my closest friend that introduced us. Even though the funeral itself was in another state, two of my brothers had the latitude and the means to come with me and for some reason chose not to. Instead, I flew to Florida and stayed in a hotel alone to face Patrick’s 88 year old grieving mother and siblings, none of which knew he was sick, had started a texting war about his remains that I had to diffuse, I barely knew some of them and honestly, when I stepped off the plane wasn’t sure what exactly I was up against. Then of course there is the fact that I now have to stand up in front of a hundred or so people and give a eulogy. What I thought was my closest friend, called the night before, and even though she was just a short drive away, determined she had to work as if that was somehow more important than me. Again, I have looped de looped through all of the stages and again I have hit the speedbumps of anger and depression that cannot repair these broken relations. I have walked away from all of them quietly and silently, but the anger remains. I needed a white night at that time, and instead I was balling my eyes out alone at a Starbucks trying to figure out how to regain some composure.
The fact that Patrick and I chose not to marry is really none of anyone’s business, nor does it require any explanation. However I found myself in the early onset bargaining with all of the people that appeared to minimize my grief, after all, I wasn’t his wife, I am not really a window, we didn’t even live together, why am I so sad or grieving? This flowed into denial quickly and suddenly after 15 wonderful years it was like I was on this filibuster explaining to everyone who would listen how happy we were, what a wonderful life we had built, and marriage in our eyes was just a sheet of paper. It was as if I needed their permission to grieve the love of my life. I have since accepted the fact that when it comes to saying the right things to the grieving, the general population is simply stupid and uneducated in these matters and some start spewing out the most ridiculous insinuations, my favorite of them all, is do I think he really care about me after all he had two ex-wives he loved more because he married those woman, but don’t worry someone else will come along for me.
Then there is the text book grief counselor, who has no actual experience in true loss wanting me to articulate my guilt and my fears. Where is she coming from? I kept on bargaining to get her to see the world from my reference point. I have zero guilt; I took care of the man I loved until his last breath. I gave everything of me that there was to give to the point there is nothing left. I’ve also spent my entire life standing on my own two high heels, I make my own money so that isn’t an issue, I am not a social butterfly, never was, being alone and being lonely are two different things in my opinion. I still wonder what I am supposed to be afraid of or guilty of. I had such denial and anger towards her because it was almost as though she couldn’t hear a word I said and kept trying to bring me back to her script and how I should have felt and trying to manage my grief, my pain, my loss her way. I have simply accepted – grief counseling isn’t for me.
A year later, it appears everyone I encounter is asking me why I haven’t gotten over it, asking have I met anyone; letting me know it’s time to jump into the dating pool again. The anger and depression grow even more ferocious, as I found myself bargaining by explaining the fact I didn’t get dumped, he died! And the vicious circle continues.
Although I could go on and on and on, I hope you now get the gist of where I am coming from. Where am I today… they say Step 1 is admitting:
I have Denied the fact that these events have affected me.
I have been so full of Anger and resentment mostly stemming from the feeling of being invisible and left to figure out how to grieve on my own.
I have spent too much time Bargaining with anyone who wishes to challenge my relationship, my ability to be his sole caregiver, or made any attempts to dismiss my pain and agony of his loss.
I lived in a constant state of Depression that the world of relationships and support I have, turned out not to be as I had hoped in my darkest moments.
I must Accepted there are thoughts, feelings, and emotions I have towards individuals that can never be mended, people are not intentionally malicious, but they have made choices and now I have some to make.
While I’d still be in denial admitting anything other than I haven’t fully gotten off this loop de loop, I have at least recognized that is does exist, that it is unhealthy for me to dwell on the events of the past that I cannot change, it is impossible to control anyone’s feelings and emotions when I can’t even control my own, but they are in fact standing in the way of my efforts to heal my broken heart.
I have the sole power of choosing my own destiny, choosing to refocus my attention to those few who have been supportive, choosing to simply let go of these negative emotions and find peace in this turmoil, and choosing to honor the man of my dreams every day.
I’m going to stumble, I’m going to fall, and I’m going to need help. That’s where all of you come in!