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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

3 Words of Ponder

Acceptance- the act or process of accepting: to allow, admit, receive, take in, believe, endure, or understand.

Abnormal- departing from the normal or atypical: deviation, irregular, or divergent.

Grieve- to feel, show, or express grief [mental anguish or pain caused from loss or death:despair]: to mourn or lament.

I realize it is not fair to myself to compare myself, my emotions, and my experiences with another's, however I find myself doing just that; I am comparing my reaction to my sister's regarding the loss of Mom. We are behaving and/or experiencing this so differently that I can't help but wonder if my reaction is abnormal. How is it that she is crumbling day and night, and I have moved on to occasional moments of pain and loss? Why am I able to accept this more easily? Is there something wrong with me?

What is normal in the terms of grieving, anyway? According to the "7 Steps of Grief" there are seven stages:

  1.  Shock and Denial- the numb sense of disbelief, and/or the denial (conscious or subconscious) to accept the reality of the death of your loved one aka shock, which provides emotional protection from the sudden whammy of overwhelming grief. This stage may last a week..."may" being the operative word here. I'm interpreting that to mean that this particular stage can last longer than, or less than a week.
  2. Pain and Guilt- as the shock begins to wear off, it may be replaced with unbelievable pain, heartache, despair, and even guilt Sometimes these emotions can feel unbearable, however this is an important stage of the grieving process and perfectly normal. You need to allow yourself to experience this array of emotions, fully in all their not-so-pretty-glory; it is crucial in order for you to heal and move forward into the next stage. During this stage it is normal to find yourself asking the "what-if's", "if only's", and the "why's".
  3. Anger and Bargaining- during this phase it is very normal to experience frustration, anger, and possibly the need to lash out or blame someone or something. Although it is normal, it is important to try to refrain from doing these things as it may result in permanent damage to relationships with family, friends, etc. I personally recommend finding a constructive outlet for these emotions, such as physical labor/chores. You may also find yourself still asking questions such as: "why" or "why me" and perhaps pleading for impossible bargains such as: "I promise to never _____ again, if you just bring ____ back!"
  4. Depression, Reflection and Loneliness- this stage comes along right about the time other people may think that you should be moving forward and getting on with your life, but this is when the true magnitude of your loss hits, and depression, loneliness, and despair set in. You will find yourself remembering the past (the good and the bad), reflecting on the sound of your loved one's voice, laugh, or his/her smile, etc. You may find yourself craving isolation and withdrawing from your friends, family, work, and hobbies. Once again, these emotions are all normal and you may find that no amount of encouragement from others will help you feel better. this stage, just like its predecessors is temporary and you just have to let yourself experience these feelings, but know that they will eventually ease.
  5. Readjustment- depression eventually eases and you slowly begin adjusting to life without your loved one in it. Your physical and emotional symptoms begin to lessen and calm begins to return to your life.
  6. Reconstruction- as you move from the beginnings of adjustment, you move into a period of "function" when you begin begin reorganizing, and finding realistic mundane solutions to problems as you become more focused on the practical things such as finances, packing up belongings, etc.
  7. Acceptance and Hope- mind you this does not mean instant happiness  it merely means that you will begin understanding and accepting reality, and finally begin moving forward. There will always be the sadness, however the unbearable heartache will lesson and eventually disappear  and you will eventually experience joy again.                     http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html
With the exception of the first stage, there is no approximate time limit given as far as to how long each of these stages may last. As I sit here typing and re-reading all seven stages, it has dawned on me that I have experienced six of them so far. I am currently working my way through depression into the reconstruction phase, with occasional bouts of grief, guilt, and reflection.

I don't know why I moved through this process so quickly vs. my sister who appears to me to be stuck in Stage 2. Maybe it is the fact that she lived with Mom, whereas I had been separated from both Mom and my sister when they moved out of town in January 2012; maybe that separation assisted in preparing me for her loss? All I know is that I am puzzled by how this has affected me. I totally thought that when the time came, Mom's passing would absolutely devastate me, leaving me a nonfunctional emotional wreck; however, somehow I have already begun moving forward, and it hasn't even been a month yet. Don't get me wrong, I still have my moments. Hell, I still have my moments about my Dad's passing, so I imagine that these moments will continue to come out of nowhere and hit me upside the head for years to come yet.

So the question remains, is it abnormal that my grieving period was so short, and I seem to have accepted Mom's death faster than my sister? I don't know... Does it mean that I loved Mom any less? No, absolutely not. I'm going to miss her terribly; I already do.

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