The Stages of Grief Aren’t Linear

It was just a dream

Last night I had a dream about my Grandmother. For those who don’t know my grandmother passed last year after a short battle with cancer. She was my favorite person on the entire planet. I love all my friends and family but my grandmother was the most important person in my life. The whole world could wake up one day and decide to hate me but I know she would’ve been the one person still on my side. In this dream she alive again but very sick. She, my siblings, and I were all at her old house, the one we grew up in. The one my mother and her siblings grew up in. Located on 139th St in Cleveland, OH, today it’s vacant. We were all rushing trying to get her things together before she had to pass again.

The house present in my dream, my Grandmother’s home in Cleveland.

Everything from documents to pictures, to family keepsakes, even cars parked outside. Everything had to be in order before she had to pass again. It was weird because we all knew that she had passed on again and were confused but went along with getting everything together. Randomly, there were two little girls from down the street who wanted some food and to meet my Grandmother. I gave them food but told them that although my Grandmother was a sweet lady, they couldn’t meet her because she was very sick and would have to die again. I didn’t want them to get close to her and be sad from her passing so I sent them away. The dream ended with my Grandmother yelling my name and telling me she had to “go on to Glory again” and she fell over and passed. I started yelling my siblings’ names to get them to help me help her up and try to keep her from dying again. I woke up crying because the dream felt entirely too real but semi-relieved that it hadn’t been. The day has had a small cloud over it ever since and it doesn’t help that it’s a gloomy day outside.

Losing my Grandmother was a pain that I had never experienced and as “prepared” as I was, I wasn’t. If I wasn’t in therapy this was definitely something that would’ve broken me. I’m so grateful for my therapist explaining to me that everyone’s grieving process isn’t the same and that the stages we learn about aren’t linear. This was the first time I had ever lost someone this close to me and I really didn’t know how to grieve. I honestly thought the stages were some sort of timeline that went in order from Denial to Acceptance and that I’d eventually get to accept it and move on. But, a couple months passed and I went from Acceptance to being Angry all over again, or from Bargaining back to Denial. I was reassured that there’s no timeline to grief and the stages can happen multiple times and sometimes simultaneously. And today I don’t know what stage I’m in. Some days it’s hard to accept that she will never be physically present again, and that sucks.

“Are you going to write about how you’re feeling?”

Don’t you just hate when people use your words and advice against you while holding you accountable? Lol truth is, like all of my other personal pieces, this has been a draft for awhile.  I wanted to write it while I was happy-go-lucky and “okay”, while I thought I was doing well dealing with my grandmother’s death. The first few holidays and family gatherings without her were hard and emotional but we got through them. What I wasn’t prepared for was the wave of sadness and anger that would consume me around her birthday this year, the anniversary of her death, and then Mother’s Day. It was too much, too fast, and with other things going on I just wasn’t prepared.

Grief

Grief doesn’t just come from a loss of a loved one either. It could be the loss of a friendship or relationship, a betrayal, or any major negative life change. Your whole world, or part of it, has just shifted and it’s not easy or comfortable. We all know the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance. These stages aren’t on a linear timeline, and some may experience all or only a few. In this past year, I’ve experienced denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and I’m unsure just how much I’ve actually accepted. Like yes, I know my grandmother is dead, gone, never to return but some days the only way to get through without completely breaking down is to think that she just needed a vacation away from us and will be back.. eventually. I’d also like to make a suggestion to add “Annoyance” as a stage. There are times I can’t explain how I’m feeling other than to say I am annoyed. Sometimes, when someone posts about their grandmother I roll my eyes and think “so”, bitterly. Like, why do they still get to have their grandmother I don’t?  

Because grief stages aren’t linear, they can happen in any order at any period of time, for a varied amount of time. The key, I’ve learned, to not letting grief drive you crazy is knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy grieving. I haven’t exactly mastered that, but I haven’t been committed so I think I’m doing a good job.

So Ashleigh, how are you coping?

Eh. I honestly have no idea. Some days I’ll look at pictures of her, listen to her voicemails, read cards she’s given me, even look at emails we’ve exchanged. This helps sometimes, and sometimes it makes it worst. I never know when that’ll be. Once I’m able to write the manual on healthy grieving of a loved one, I’ll be sure to update this lol Until then, I just try not to eat my feelings or indulge in things, or people, that I shouldn’t.

“As long as you indulge yourself in constructive ways to deal with all the shit that life makes you feel, you will always figure out the best way to live with the new shit that you feel.” -Kain (HotDamnIRock)

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18 Comments

  1. Reply

    feleciamonique88

    September 13, 2017

    This is so true for so many things. I have a hard time coping with loss, or even just a traumatic experience overall. I loved your honesty about how you are coping because we are humans and at times our emotions and thoughts become bigger than us. To be able to say that it’s a back and forth battle each day is a BIG observation. You’re headed in the right direction 😊

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      September 15, 2017

      Thank you so much!!

  2. Reply

    Kita

    September 18, 2017

    I am so sorry for your loss. I wrote about my grandmother this week too. She was definitely my favorite person. Please feel how you feel and know that you sharing is needed for you and for others.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      September 19, 2017

      Thank you! There’s nothing like a grandmother’s love, definitely none like mine!

  3. Reply

    erinlivelovelaugh

    September 18, 2017

    I’m so sorry for your loss Ashleigh. I can tell your grandmother was a very special person. Make sure you are able to grieve in your own way and your own time. It’s okay to go through the motions sometimes. Take care,love.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      September 19, 2017

      Thank you Erin! I really appreciate it, it’s been a tough year with grieving but I’m definitely getting a little better at it.

  4. Reply

    Tonia Sanders

    September 18, 2017

    This is hard. I have felt haunted by the longing for my loved ones that have passed in my dreams. It’s weird to relive moments that I know aren’t real, but at the same time it helps to remind me to cherish the relationships i have today. Take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to grieve.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      September 19, 2017

      Hard, it definitely is! Thank you, I’m still finding the healthy grieving process!!

  5. Reply

    Queens of Virtue

    September 19, 2017

    Wow! Sorry you lost your grandmother. I know it can be very difficult at times. Grief is serious. I pray that it gets better (hugs). Grieve, but don’t forget to live life to the fullest also 🙂

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      September 19, 2017

      Thank you!!

  6. Reply

    mimicutelips

    September 19, 2017

    My grandma died 15 years ago and it rocked my world. I was only 22 and like youbshw was my favorite person in the world.

    All these years later a song can come on and remind me of her. In turn I evaluated my life and made changes for the better.

  7. Reply

    MUAKimPorter

    September 20, 2017

    Aww I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother, especially if it came on so suddenly. No loss is easy, but the loss of a grandparent, child or parent are HARD! As long as you grieve and grieve in your way that makes you better, do it.

  8. Reply

    Bree

    September 20, 2017

    Grief stages aren’t linear! So true. I lost my mom 9 years ago. No one can tell me how and when to feel the feelings. I wish more people would take the time to respect others as they grieve. Thank you for being transparent and sharing.

  9. Reply

    Ty

    September 20, 2017

    Losing someone so close to you can be really hard. I was there when my grandmother passed and it broke my heart for so many reasons. I kind of remember myself crying but I don’t really remember if I grieved on not. I guess it is true that we all grieve differently.

  10. Reply

    Candice

    September 20, 2017

    This post is helpful to me. I lost my paternal grandmother 3 years ago and I’m so afraid of losing my maternal grandmother, who’s 96. She’s such a vital part of my life and the center of our family. I’m trying to cherish every moment I get to speak with her since she lives in NY and I’m in TN. I’m trying to be prepared too, but I’m not sure how prepared I can actually be. Thank you for sharing all that you’ve been going through. I pray you can have peace so you can continue to live your best life.

  11. Reply

    kimblekristin09

    September 22, 2017

    This post is great! Grief is not linear and we have to allow people to go through each phase. I lost a close friend to cancer and I definitely went through the various stagest at different times.

  12. Reply

    Tiffany H.

    September 22, 2017

    My maternal grandmother was the first person to die that was close to me. I was 18 years so I a, grateful that we had the opportunity to spend my childhood together. Reading this post makes me miss her as well. I wish that some people can stay on earth forever especially grandmas. We lost our grandpa several years ago and although it hurts we still have my paternal We lost our grandpa several years ago and although it hurts we still have granny.

  13. Reply

    socamom

    September 29, 2017

    Everyone has a different way of dealing with losing a loved one. You are never prepared for the feeling that you feel. I am so glad you chose therapy. It is really very important when it comes to sorting out your feelings.

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