So . . . Grief . . . still in it, still learning so much in the midst of it, and still needing to write about it. My thoughts last night turned to the cyclical nature of where I am in my grief at the moment. You see, as a psychotherapist (and as a human being who had never really experienced deep loss), it was fairly easy for me to frame grief in the five stages made famous by Elizabeth Kübler Ross – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I also knew that this was in no way linear, and that the process could jump all over these stages and back again. What I didn’t understand, until I was full-on in it, was that those five descriptors really don’t even begin to describe the depth of the experience of grief.
Somewhere in the middle of those stages are tiny fissures, laying themselves out almost maze-like. A labyrinth of sorts that has me tossed here, there, and everywhere. And sometimes, in the midst of those deep tunnels, I find myself seemingly going round in circles, always finding my way back to where I thought I had already been.
I didn’t experience this at first. Initially my grief felt much simpler. My tears seemed to carry me forward through the maze in a way that left me feeling like I was getting somewhere (see earlier blog post Tears . . .). Then, other pieces starting slowly creeping in, and among them was that friend who no one wants to invite to the party – anger. Damn. I am fuming. I am incensed. And, I am not happy about this. But, as with so many aspects of this experience called grief, I don’t feel as though I have much choice in the matter at this juncture.
And so it is that I find myself trapped in this cycle – sad one moment, raging in the next. Then, feeling so exhausted from visiting these two spaces, I take a break and catch my breath, only to turn around and realize that I’m right back in the sadness again.
Cry, rage, rest . . . repeat. That’s where I am right now.
As with much of this journey, I’m trying to trust that this is where I need to be. That somehow, if I could soar above and look down on this maze called grief, I would be able to see from that bird’s eye view, that there are many more corridors to explore and many more paths to take. In the words of Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” I imagine I have much to learn.