Understanding The Process of Grief

30 08 2007

Ride (2)

Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough.  All rights reserved.

If I’d been asked to describe the progression of grief a few years ago, I would have assumed it’d work through a nice orderly timeline.  It would start at the loss and work through different emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, etc.) in some sort of logical order.  Each emotion would be a level and once worked through, you’d move on to the next stage in the process.

I have since concluded that grief doesn’t follow a systematic timeline.  Instead, it often reminds me of a rollercoaster—up and down, to and fro, and all without any warning.  You hang on so tight your fingers hurt, scream your head off, and try not to get sick on the unlucky person who’s seated in front of you.  You can go from being at acceptance, to anger, and then right back to just feeling depressed, and you would’ve felt like you’d worked through each of those already.

Just One Wild Ride

Grief isn’t a cycle – once you’ve worked through something you’re on to the next phase – because the feelings and struggles are always there, but it’s impossible for anyone to try and deal with them all at the same time, so it comes it shifts.  The process of working through grief doesn’t inch along, slowly but surely, going in the right direction.  It takes quantum leaps that seem to lead anywhere but forward, but eventually, someday, comes to an end.

Some days, I wake up feeling as if the world is almost as it should be, but the reality of what I’m dealing with can hit again and leave me feeling dazed.  It makes me hesitate when answering “How are you?” because I don’t want to drag everyone I know along on my rollercoaster.  If I cry when talking, they assume life must be “bad,” but if I’m able to smile while reporting the details of life to them, then life must be “good.”  But the struggles are always the same; they’re always there.  I think this is something people have a hard time grasping.

Out of the Box

Often, it seems as if people are only able to place me in one of their mental boxes.  If I’m in the “Poor Kelsey” box, they’ll ask sympathetic questions and make sad eyes to such a sickening degree I’d like to sign them up for acting lessons — if they’re going to act, at least they could try looking sincere.  When placed in this box, people seem to forget I’m even capable of talking about anything lighter than grief, death and the like, or would even want to do something simply for enjoyment.

On the other hand, if I’m stuck in the “Life is Fine” box ,when I mention something about my dad’s health and how life is going, they’ll look surprised for a moment and comment, “Oh, that’s right… how is your dad anyways?”  They’d forgotten anything was even happening.

I hate being in either box, because both are such horribly inaccurate representations of my life.  Some of it might simply be that they can’t understand what the process of working through grief looks like; they still think it follows a timeline, so they don’t understand why I don’t feel “better” yet, or why I haven’t moved on to the next “stage.”  The trouble is, there aren’t stages in that sense; just one wild ride.

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.

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11 responses

30 08 2007
stuartdelony

I love your honesty.

31 08 2007
silverylizard

i imagine this must be an awful ride. i think this grief might be a little more systematic if you didnt have to live with it like youre doing. seems like a cd thats stuck and keeps shifting between sounds, all of them discordant. if you simply had the loss, and it was over with, it might be different.

imagine is all i can do to relate. however, the imagination is a wonderful thing, and with your discription, and my own experiences with grief, i can see into your world to a degree. i just cant make it feel better. maybe thats why people get so uncomfortable around grieving friends. we want to make it better. its in our nature. even writing this, i feel i want to help, say the right thing, give you comfort.

i can, however listen.
kïrstin♫

31 08 2007
timglass

I think that any of us could deal systematicly with a death, or something with a finality to it. But in your situation, your right, emotionally, you are all over the place.
Please know that we pray for you, and the rest of the family. That you may know happiness again, soon.
Blessings to all,
Tim

1 09 2007
Kaylene

Thanks for being open with us. I believe I can learn a lot from your thoughts here. Its something I hesitate to think on. John Piper says, “we’re spring loaded to see the pleasant side of truth.” Its true. People like you have to snap us back to reality. Thanks again.

1 09 2007
Kaylene

…and my prayers are with you. >sincerely<

2 09 2007
The DT

Just do the healthy thing- bottle up all your emotions.

Kidding. At least you do express your grief, which is better than not doing it.

3 09 2007
びっくり

I like the “try not to throw up on the person in front of you” bit… ewww…

Keep up the good work. Do you mind if I put this blog in my blogroll?

3 09 2007
Kelsey Hough

I don’t mind at all. In fact, I’d be flattered. 🙂

~Kelsey

3 09 2007
びっくり

Done and done. I added it to the blogroll and wrote a short post so that my regular readers don’t overlook it. I can’t promise it will bring you any significant traffic, but it makes it easy for me to get here to read.

Stay focussed on the Lord and your walk; and people like me will want to read. All the best to you.

6 09 2007
Dianasaur

There are so many people who are blessed to not have gone through any significant grief. It makes them unable to fully comprehend what someone who is grieving is going through. Especially in such a unique situation. I’m sorry that you feel like you’re put in a box at times. I hope that it’s because of lack of understanding. You are a wonderful person and I really can’t think of any box to fit you into! Know that people really care about you and even if no one on this earth can understand what you’re feeling, God knows even better than you do, and He will never fail you.

3 12 2007
rhosie

thanks for sharing…..your post is very true…. grieving for someone we love most is not as easy as snap of a finger.Each of us go through a process of acceptance.Day by day the pain is getting deeper, for some whom not yet experienced yet the loss may not be understand the feelings.But all i can say to you is surrender to God all the pain you feels and believe me He will ease the pain for you…..
Godbless

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