How Elisabeth Kubler-Ross gypped us.
Most of us are familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her five stages of grief. As a refresher they are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.
I pretty much came into the world with the five stages tacked to my heart . A second copy was always handy in my back pocket. This is because not only was I born prematurely, but I had a stroke at birth which impaired my right side causing numerous surgeries and overall havoc! I had always totally accepted the stages. That is, until I lost the person who brought me into this world. She was the sharer of; witness to; and Burden-Bearer to my life of grief. She was the over -worked CEO of Leslie Inc.; my Mama; a.k.a. Elizabeth A.k.a. Sarge. Always.
About the time I was losing my mother to a wicked case of dementia, I was also losing my 26 year marriage. And then POOF both were gone.HERE is where I would suggest the addition of two more stages to her paradigm.
The first is EXHAUSTION . The first year after my mother’s death and my husband’s departure I would fall into bed and immediately go to sleep. Normal activities just wore me out. There is this ” BUSY-NESS” To grief. I cleaned out her house (a repository of cherished memories and also “happy crappy”); sold her house; sold her car; closed bank accounts; wrote truckloads of thank you notes; and finally sold all the STUFF . Each day felt like a slog-fest! Books I had been dying to read by authors I loved wouldn’t penetrate my feeble brain. What was wrong with me? The answer: GRIEVING takes energy. A LOT of it.
The other neglected stage:INDIFFERENCE … Of others. And The WEIRD reactions that they engendered in Me . Alarm System companies wanted additional proof of death, Reasoning “Death certificates gets can be faked “they claimed.REALLY?? The state of Georgia and I are in cahoots to get an 87-year-old out of a seven-year contract? Who had time for that? Words came out of my mouth that shocked me . While selling Mama’s house and her stuff, a woman, her hair in curlers, came up and wanted her most prized recipe book for a dollar instead of two dollars . I simply walked away from the woman in mid- question. I was in no shape to bargain with indifferent people. I had no desire to use my “nice” manners. Sarge would be appalled. I wanted to say to the security system, the woman looking for a deal, to the Social Security office, and to the bank,”My mama just died, my husband just left, and I lost my two cats. Give me a break”.
My best friends would make harmless jokes and I would snap at them, “Stop it”, to their shocked faces. Maybe I was experiencing “temporary insanity” something a bit more sinister and dangerous than just “magical thinking”as suggested by Joan Didion. How else to explain this PECULIAR me??
A year has passed. Everything has been done. Mostly. Except ,of course ,dealing with my feelings and those pesky other five stages of grief.