Belfast Telegraph

I'm going through all five stages of grief in one night

By Nuala McKeever

A couple of times recently, people have mentioned Elizabeth Kubler-Ross to me and I've thought, 'Why are these sane people recommending me to read soppy greetings card verses by yer woman?

Turns out I was mixing up Elizabeth Kubler-Ross with Helen Steiner Rice.

HSR did indeed write "inspirational" verses, while EKR was a psychiatrist who came up with a model called the Five Stages of Grief. Slight difference.

The five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Can't see Clintons making a bomb selling merchandise with that as a chirpy strapline.

"Welcome to Denial!" on a large mug with a cute teddybear covering its eyes? Y'never know, it might take off.

If you make an acronym of the five letters, it's D.A.B.D.A. "Dabda?" Say it out loud, you sound like you're trying to attract the attention of someone called Dympna, only you've got a bad cold.

"They" say you go through these stages over time – weeks, months, even years. I haven't yet read of anyone else having them all between waking up and making a cup of tea. Just me then.

Wake up. "Oh, that was just a dream, I'm NOT in a tree house trying to make a frisbee the size of a paddling pool fly over those trees. Phew! It's nearly bright. Must be all of half four in the morning. Nope, it's just 3.55am. Oh, good, lots more sleeping time then." ZZzzzzzzz ...

Wake up. "Oh, that was just a dream then, I'm not actually watching two rabbits in a cage, one about to eat the other then. Phew. That's good. It was just a bad dream.

"Now, where are we, what time is it, what's happening ..."

BOOM! The freight train of remembering hits.

"No, no, no! Not this again. Why can't this be over?" (Denial.) Check time, it's 4.35am. "For f***'s sake!! What is the problem with just sleeping like a normal person?" (Anger) "Right, I'll get up, have a pee, make a cup of tea, walk around on the cold floor a bit and that'll cool me down, then I'll do some deep breathing and then, please, will you let me sleep then, with no dreams, please? I'll stop thinking, honestly, just let me sleep, pleeeeeeeeese!" (Bargaining.)

Catch sight of crumpled, fat, dishevelled self in bathroom mirror en route to the loo. "Oh God, this is it. This is what there is now. Just me and endless grey thoughts with no relief and no joy and no love and no point in anything anyway, oh God I can't do this, I can't, I can't, I can't ..."

Sit on loo and howl into big bath towel to muffle the sound so any neighbours don't feel uncomfortable. (Depression.)

Make tea. Pad back to bed with hot tea and cold feet.

Look up this person they've talked to me about, online. Discover it's two different people. Read about the five stages, then read a line or two from the other woman.

Amongst the overly twee stuff, I find this: "The way to real growth is not to become more powerful or more famous, but to become more human and more tolerant."

Ah. I breathe in. And out. That's all I have to do. The pain is just a part of the whole process. It's not everything and it's not always. (Acceptance.)

Fall asleep and have more bad dreams. And so it goes.

Belfast Telegraph


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