After I lost my sister, a dear friend gave me a book on grief. It’s called, Transcending Loss by Ashley Davis Prend and has been incredibly helpful. Dealing with the death of a loved one is not something I can encapsulate into a sentence or even a blog entry. At least, not right now. Or maybe I can on some days and other days I cannot. Something truly valuable I’ve gotten from this book is that, yes, there are lots of stages of grief, but that no, you will not necessarily feel them in any certain order. Sometimes, you’ll be in multiple stages at once; sometimes, you’ll revisit stages you thought you already passed through. Dealing with death is weird, sad, frustrating, gut-wrenching, liberating, and–despite my trying to do so–impossibly indescribable. So when this book lays out in front of you all of these things you’re feeling and does so in a way that says, “Yep, what you’re going through is pretty shitty and all of those thoughts and feelings you’re having are COMPLETELY NORMAL,” it just makes you feel so much better.
This morning, I woke up with a Garth Brooks song in my head. My sister loved Garth Brooks. The song accompanied an image of the three of us–my two sisters and I–standing with our arms around each other. The film maker in my head sure does know how to direct a tear-jerker, right?
Anyway, it made me reach for the book, which I actually haven’t done in a month or so. I opened up to different pages and am moved to share some excerpts of the book here. Who knows? Maybe it will even help someone else who is dealing with grief.
“After the stage of Shock, grievers commonly enter the stage of Disorganization. This is the heart of grief, and thus the most difficult……You remember the good times and the precious, ordinary moments. You remember the bad times and all the things you wish you had said that you’ll never be able to say now. Some days are punctuated by gut-wrenching, bittersweet, lonely moments, but on other days, you don’t feel anything at all. You might have nightmares, health problems, or irrational phobias. You probably think that you’re going crazy and you may even want to die. This is a particularly difficult stage since it seems endless and in fact it may reemerge, off and on, for many years.”
Like I said, it’s helpful to have your feelings validated and to know that no, you’re not going crazy–you’re just normal. Here’s another passage that found me this morning.
“The point is that in the beginning, in the stage of Disorganization, things are not okay. Life is not fine. You are not doing all right. Someone you loved dearly, someone precious to you, has been wrested from you, and your life is left in shreds. If someone describes a griever to me by saying, ‘Oh, she’s so strong and together; she’s handling her grief really well,’ that’s when I worry. I think someone is handling her grief well if I hear that ‘she’s terribly upset, she’s crying constantly, she’s falling apart.’ Emotion isn’t the problem to be fixed; it’s the natural response and the ultimate solution.”
Thank you, beautifully validating book.