Archive for Grief

Beware the What-ifs

the what ifs

After a loved one had died, the what-ifs can seem like a weight pressing against our hearts. Won’t they finally lighten as the clock keeps ticking and the calendar pages turn? But what if the what-ifs keep troubling us? They can randomly appear, like odd noises jarring sleepers awake in the depths of night.

What if . . .

  • My husband had quit smoking years before?
  • My wife had gone to the oncologist earlier?
  • I hadn’t given that “last” dose of morphine?
  • You hadn’t flirted with the passenger on the plane?

Are what-ifs like an airborne virus? Mirriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines disease as:

“a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.” [Underlining is mine.]

Grief is not a disease! It’s a normal response to loss for every young and old, outgoing and shy, athletic and geeky, faithful and faithless, clever and awkward, silly and serious, greedy and generous individual. But many aspects of grief impair (or implode) normal functioning. Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Revisiting and Recounting Grief’s 5 Stages

Grief is messy

Soon after Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ “On Death and Dying” (1969) was published, her five stages of dying entered the popular consciousness. Those stages were also used to explain how people grieve.

We love lists. Comedian David Letterman did his Top Tens right up to his retirement show. If you follow sports, you love or hate rankings. What team is #1? Is your team in the Top 25? Yelp rates cardiac surgeons and pizza joints. The web has more lists than you can list: 10 steps for the perfect savings strategy, 9 ways to grow a new head of hair, 8 best cities for retirement . . .

And so, what are Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages? Yes, a quiz!

1 –

2 –

3 –

4 –

5 –

No Googling allowed! No stealing glances at your bookshelf. No asking a spouse, child, colleague, or passing stranger for help. And once you have what you think is the correct five, please put them in order. Don’t read the next paragraph until you’ve completed the tasks! Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Last Gift

the gift

Cancer as . . . a gift?

“My cancer is a gift from God . . .” is what a patient said to their hospice nurse.

What is your first reaction to that comment? How about, You’ve got to be kidding! Or, Does that patient have a terminal and mental illness? Or you’d be speechless and roll your eyes . . . or shake your head and mutter several tsk-tsks . . . or clamp your jaw shut because your mother told you if you didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.

Or would you nod your head in reluctant agreement?

Can you imagine that last reaction—nodding and agreeing—to the patient’s pronouncement? I can, though it helped to hear the nurse’s report of the patient’s complete sentence: “My cancer is a gift from God because it has brought my children closer.”

So far, in my aging baby boomer life, I’ve had several modest traumatic events that became change agents for my attitude toward self, others, and the world. One happened in the year I turned thirty. My left leg met a rocky outcropping during a tumble down a snowy mountain slope. Gravity and granite were against me, and multiple bones were broken. I ended up in a cast for months, dependent upon other people for most of that time. Before that literal and metaphoric break, a divorce from five years before had been festering in my soul. I often doubted and even loathed myself, careening between thinking today was bad but tomorrow could be worse. It wasn’t just the divorce; there were other negatives that burdened me. Nonetheless, I figured to “tough it out” on my own. But the break broke me. I became dependent. I saw people and the world (and me) with different, more forgiving eyes. Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather