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Grief – Is it a Process?
Grief is, because love is #9
Our understanding of grief today, owes much to the groundbreaking work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who her in her 1969 book, ‘On Grief and Dying’ proposed there were five stages of grief; denial, anger,bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she proposed a ‘moving backwards and forwards’ between the stages, grief was in essence a process.
It may be true, that although our understanding of grief has moved on from what Kubler-Ross has proposed, we should be careful not to dismiss it completely. In the words of a bereavement coordinator I spoke to a few years back, Kubler-Ross is still relevant for some people, as we all grieve in very individual ways.
If you have read previous posts of mine, you will know that I liken grief to the untangling of a ball of wool. There is no process to such untangling; you just grab an end and see where it takes you. In my post, Grief – the great unraveling I proposed that it can be difficult to unravel yourself from a loved one that has died, because you become deeply connected. It could be that ‘some of the knots’ will never undo completely. This implies that grief can be messy. To quote Anna Bardsley, who I heard about in some training on grief and loss:
“I have heard the grief described as a ‘process’ , heard the words ‘stages of grief’. Process and stages are such tidy words and grief is anything but tidy and orderly; it is a mess, much more like a storm raging outside my window. A storm which buffets me at its will. Winds that rage then subside, only to rage again. Rain that drenches me or drizzles and drizzles until I am drenched through. Sometimes I can hold an umbrella and take shelter. Other times, there is no shelter, the umbrella is torn out of my hands. I am left alone and vulnerable to the power of the storm raging around and within me.”
I must confess, I am not sure who Anna Bardsley is, but I think based on the quote above, she has experienced grief in a deep and profound way. Grief appears to be unpredictable, something we cannot plan for, a thing that can take us to uncomfortable places, a darkness, an isolating force that drives us to the very depths of human emotion.
So what is the resolution here? In each individual’s own time, maybe a ‘new normal’ emerges. It is not a normal that forgets, or ‘gets over’ the loss. It is not a normal that pretends that everything is OK, that all is fixed, and the future is bright. I think, just as there will be ‘knots’ it is slowly coming to realise that the tremendous risk we take, to love someone, knowing at some point that the physical presence will leave, is worth it, even though life may become unbearable because of it. Maybe it is this love, the helps the ‘new normal’ emerge. Something to think and ponder maybe………….
The commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional.