My cousin Andy died tragically just before Thanksgiving. As children, I remember Andy fondly. Although we were not “best friends” I do remember looking up to him and having a lot of fun with him. As an adult, I was not close to him or his family. I feel badly about that, but there is no way to go back and change time. The whirlwind of emotions that I am now facing were spurred on by the death of my cousin, but being as we were not very close, many of the emotions were connected to the fact that I had not dealt entirely with the loss of my friend from the year before.
The thing that is usually not brought up at the funeral is the different “stages” of grief the family and friends generally experience. On the other hand, a phrase you hear a lot is time heals all wounds. This may be true, but I have found that “time” is relative to the person.
Many experts agree that there are five stages most people have when handling grief. It seems I am no exception to this….
- Denial – During this time I found myself trying not to keep my mind focused on other tasks at hand, as well as thinking in the back of my mind that it was not real. My brain would argue with itself about the reality of my friend being dead. Sometimes it seemed like I was an outsider to the conversations that happened inside my own head. This numb, imagined world was not a place where I wanted to live. The only way I was able to leave this fantasy realm was to understand that he was not in away on vacation, but was, in fact, dead. This resolution brought more tears with it…
- Anger - Someone I worked with suggested that I be ready for the time when my anger would start. I assured them that there would be no way that I would be mad that the person died. How could I? Needless to say, there was a good couple of months were I was VERY mad….to the point were I was furious. I have dealt with my anger and luckily have moved on.
- Bargaining – I feel that I am currently in this stage. I had a dream the other night where I found my friend sitting on some bleachers. I said hi to him and he ignored me. When I attempted to give him a hug he crossed his arms in front of himself. I began to cry and ask him why he won’t give me a hug. I remember begging him through my tears, pleading that I would do anything that he wanted me to if only he would hug me. My husband was also in the dream and I remember him trying to console me by telling me that James could not talk to me now. I woke up crying.
- Depression – I am not here yet. I have past experience with depression in my life, and this definitely one stage that I am not looking forward to.
- Acceptance – I am not here yet. This stage will probably be the easiest to deal with and hopefully the quickest one.
Based on everything I’ve read, I feel I have passed through three of the five stages. It has been a rough journey so far, and I am sure there is more to come. The best I can do is hope for the end of #5 and my life afterward.