You all probably know full well the so-called five stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But what fails to be understood, generally, is that it not as linear as it is stated, it’s (at best) a spiral, and you find yourself going back and forth all the time bouncing between stages you could have sworn you’d already gone through but dang, there you are, hello, I recognise this road, this signpost, I’ve been here before, haven’t I?
I go through micro-denials all the time. I find myself lying in bed at night with my eyes closed but not yet asleep, and my thoughts will drift to some form of “he is gone”, and my entire body will jerk instnctively into a sharp “NO!” before I have a chance to stop it. It’s denial upon denial upon denial and I have no brakes on that train at all, it just keeps circling back to bite me.
Anger? I stand in my kitchen, alone, the kitchen that was “his” kitchen because he dealt with the cooking, and I look at a pot which I have to fill with something because I am still alive and I have to eat or I won’t be much longer, and there’s a limp sort of fury that stabs at me – “how could you leave me alone with a lifetime of cooking for one stretching out in front of me?”
Bargaining? I tried that. God wasn’t having any of it.
Depression? Hellfire yes. I”m borderline clinical. I cry at the drop of a hat. I am triggered by stupid things, by something I glimpse on a TV show which never used to matter before – some TV shows I can’t watch at all because they were “our” shows and I can’t bear to watch them without him. I still haven’t seen the new Leverage series mostly because I went there to look and the first scenes were WIDOWHOOD and I just couldn’t hack it. I go to bed crying. I wake up crying. At some point it’s gotta get better because I”ll dehydrate myself right outta tears at this rate. But depression? oh yeah. it lives here now.
And acceptance? Sorry, i don’t think I’ll ever get there. I cannot accept this. I just bounce off it when I try.
Maybe I’ll just end up being depressed enough to grow numb, and that will do in lieu of acceptance.
In the meantime, I am trying to stay remotely productive. I am editing a MS for publication soon (it’s in the proofreading/formatting stages now so it’s a lot of hurry up and wait while other people do their thing). I even went out on a limb and submitted a couple of short stories to various places recently. Who knows, right? But I haven’t written any new fiction for six months, barring one short story which even I can tell is more of a cri de coeur than anything literarily brilliant in any way – and of course it’s the first story that my in-house editor that I had for twenty years did not see and “fix” before I could show it to other people. I mean, I wrote before I met Deck and I can probably write again at some point but for those twenty shared years *he was part of the process* and now I have to learn to write all over again.
Stages of grief? I’m in all of them, all at once.
It’s been just over six months since I became a widow. I simultaneously cannot believe that it’s been so short, and that it’s been so long. I think I have barely stirred from the start line, and there’s a marathon waiting to be run – and the stages of grief are waiting for me at every step I take forward, like so many traps just yawning for me. I guess the only acceptance I can muster right now is basically the acceptance that I am Frodo Baggins – I am wounded, wounded, and I will never really heal – not until I find the twilit quays where waits a ship to bear me to the uttermost west.
I will write about more cheerful stuff soon. I promise.