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 was 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.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 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 soon. 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. 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 for grief and that the stages can happen multiple times and sometimes simultaneously. 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 a while. 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 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 (yet) 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)