What each stage of grief felt like for me.

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

As many other life processes, this one feels different for everyone and the timeline also varies from one person to another. As I have mentioned before, in January I lost my life partner and father of my son. According psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the five emotions associated with death and dying are anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Having studied the Kubler-Ross model before, I was able to identify the exact moment that marked each stage of the process of adapting to the life without my soulmate. Although the order above is the most common to follow, mine did not happen in this specific order which is also common. Since Joseph was in an induced comma for a week, the first stage that I lived was bargaining. I remember sitting at the hospital's waiting room just asking God to please let him live even if it was on a wheelchair because doctors had said there were damages to some functions of his brain but did not know what exactly; or did not want to tell us. I promised (bargained) that if he came out alive, I will make sure to bring him to churches and other places to give testimony of the miracle that God had done saving his life even when the doctors had said it was very unlikely he would come out of this process the same. I asked people all around the world in social media to pray for him. I prayed hard, more than ever. I even promised God I will baptized our son as soon as he came home, something I was radically against of. I stopped bargaining and the praying all together the day he passed. I became angry instead.

I experienced the anger cold and hard. I was mad at God. How could He? How dare He take Joseph from our son Jake. I was very upset with life and the universe for taking the one excellent father from his 18 month old son who absolutely adored him. I was sitting in my room, putting my son to sleep while my sister was around and I started the conversation about how I know horrible fathers and people in general that get to have a long life and I named all of of my coworkers and how their kids have their fathers alive. I was so angry I cried because of the injustice of taking the most selfless person I ever knew from me, from his child and from this world.

Then came the depression. I went back to work and the drive to my workplace was one the most devastating things I had to do since every single morning for the past years, I had driven to work with him on the speaker phone. We spoke about our plans for the week and made shopping lists and caught each other up on things related to the baby and even gossip about our friends a little. But there I was, alone driving. Depression took my appetite away completely and the times that I did feel hungry, I just would not get up or get something to eat because everything reminded me of him and I did not feel good eating without him. I lost 15 pounds in just a couple of weeks.

My encounter with denial was brief and almost imperceptible. I realized I was on denial after I shopped for groceries for the second time. The first time I went shopping since most of the things I got expired because I was not eating well and because I had spent the usual and gotten the normal groceries not realizing and denying the fact that this was not the usual. When I was accommodating the second round of groceries in my trunk, realization came that no-one was going to eat all that cheese and I cried. I cried at that moment and I cried at night thinking of the foolishness of buying so much groceries. I cried so hard that I went into a panic attack and had to call my sister to stay on the phone and to calm me down because I was alone with the baby and I was feeling as if I was going to pass out completely. I recognized the panic attack although it was the first one I ever experienced and as such I was able to address it.

Finally, acceptance came while one night I was crying as I did almost every night and the thought came to me that no matter how much I cried, Joseph was never coming back. The moment of that realization was hurtful but it marked a before and after my grieving process. Now I look at his pictures not suffering but smiling and appreciating those moments that I know for sure will never come back.

It took me 8 months to reach the acceptance stage but that does not mean I no longer suffer or think of him. I think of him as much as I did on day one, what has changed is my reaction to those thoughts. I understand that the timing is different for everyone, however, a professor once told me that acceptance usually comes short before making a year of the lost and this was true for me. I also understand that the grieving process is not a neat, stone-written one. Everyone reacts different and some of the stages may repeat themselves or not happen at all. What I know to be true is that it is extremely difficult to prepare to be okay without someone you love. We all know death is a natural part of being living creatures, but the grief and the sorrow will never feel natural and no matter how much we know death is inevitable, we still live and love as if we were immortals.


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