Stages of Grief...or life?
Interesting how the mind continues to work even when you are trying to take a break. I can't stop thinking about the 'stages of grief'. I have decided that perhaps to limit them simply to grief is to deny (1st stage) that they are actually the functions of life.
Denial - This stage which often begins the process is seen in almost every aspect of our lives. It is a period of time that seems to allow the brain to adjust to changes in our lives that perhaps we are not so happy about. It offers that, albeit incorrect, belief that somehow life is controllable. Hopefully, only for a period of time in order to come to terms with the changes. Scott Peck believes the state of denial when taken too far, the refusal to change ones map of life even when faced with the reality of the changes, is actually the road to insanity. So maybe it is a good thing that I have stopped driving the denial bus.....don't want to appear insane.
Depression - the second stage is often the attempt to return to the past. There are certain emotions that can actually tell you where you are living, future, present or past. Depression is the state where one is not willing to accept the changes, you are still in the past, and is a wishful thinking of better times. (I am not talking about clinical depression here ...purely situation!) So, the brain moves from the ability to totally deny what is happening to a place where it 'wishes' things where different. A normal human response given that it is our natural state of being to want to control our lives. So, I dont' feel so bad about having entered this stage as I do 'wish' things were different. How long I will wish this is to be seen.
Anger - is the 3rd stage (realizing of course that we don't go through these stages so succinctly and probably toggle back and forth between them) which is the movement from the state of depression, and wishing, to actually glimpsing the reality but still not liking what is being seen. A fighting mode that sees the reality, the change, as an enemy. This stage in our grieving is absolutely necessary in order to move the brain to a place that perhaps reality begins to sink in. I can see myself in many instances in life having been angry about situations before I ever came to a place of moving into those realities. In addition to cancer diagnosis, my divorce stands out very significantly at that point. Long before I ended my marriage I was angry both at my ex as well as myself for not being able to fix the problem. I am also beginning to realize that although it may not seem to be a grieving process as we understand grieving...almost all change is a loss of something or someone so no wonder the process fits all aspects of our life......hmmmmm
Bargaining - this is the stage were we still haven't accepted the fact that life is not necessarily in our control. We figure we can bargain our way out of the change by doing something different. If I just change the way I eat (this was me when first diagnosed with cancer), or change the way I deal with people, or change the job I have all will be well. I think maybe bargaining could be the road to insanity rather than denial. It is here that one risks staying too long because of the refusal to give up control of one's environment, life whatever. Many people have spent their whole lives bargaining with life in order to not have to face the changes that have taken place.....an example of this that seems to come to mind is the recent increase in plastic surgery, and all these things that promise 'eternal youth'. Boy if that ain't bargaining I don't what is. We are all going to grow old it is just how soon we accept that fact that will determine if we do so in a state of happiness or not.
Which of course brings us to the final stage ACCEPTANCE!!!!! This is the stage that we all hope to arrive at sooner or later no matter what occurs in our lives. The changes that we face are much better dealt with once we have arrived here. Not that they will be easier to deal with or that they will not seem so huge, it is just that we will adjust our behaviour to incorporate the changes into our lives, thus not giving change the power over us to make our lives unhappy. So no matter who we are, or what we are going through, we are all somewhere on the continuum of the stages of grief. At any point in our life we are dealing with some type of loss, be it our health, a loved one, our youth, our children leaving home, our inability to remember all that unimportant trivia, whatever. We are always somewhere on this journey called life dealing with the different things in our lives, each at a different stage depending on the loss and our willingness to accept that the only constant in life is 'change'.
For now, at this moment in my life, I am dealing with depression (the wish it was different stage)......what stage are you in??????? .....and what loss are you grieving???