… on grief in real life


Marshal Dillon Dingle (maybe just daydreaming about his ball… or dirt)

I once read about the theory that, if you know what is actually happening within your body during childbirth, it makes it easier to deal with the pain.

I read that before I had a baby.

Also I took a class where they taught you how to breathe the way – I imagined – a member of the Red Coats might have been breathing before lining up in a rather vulnerable formation before marching – mighty exposed-ly – toward minutemen hiding in trees.

That must have been terrifying, marching toward a danger that felt so clear and present but whose horror could not be seen nor imagined.

Kind of like trying to force a baby from inside your body, out into the world, through a tunnel that is probably normally the width of a swizzle stick.

I was pretty dang tense thinking about it, but couldn’t see or really imagine what was to come.

Honestly, breathing technique was probably not going to help in either the Red Coat situation nor the baby-through-a-tube one.  But I can only personally confirm that it did not work in the latter.

Sure, I was all “Cshee-cshee-cshee, whoo-whoo-whoo” in the beginning, wondering what the big deal was and feeling all kinds of Wonder Woman-y. Then the first real contraction hit and focal points and breathing technique gave way to “Holy Fluck!” and, also, a few insistent claims that the thing trying to claw its way out of me was probably not human.

My experience with the birthing process also allows me to say – in a completely definitive way – that you should not ever tell me anything you don’t want someone else to know.  In case I am tortured.

Because I will crack.


There really isn’t even the need to say, ‘eventually’.

All the terrorists would need to say is that they were entertaining the idea of inducing labor and all your secrets would be vomited, Julian-Assange-slash-Wikileaks-style, all over the tabloids.

Which brings me to the stages of grief.

Similarly to what I was once told about labor, I am now being told that – if I understand the stages of grief – I will be more prepared for them and things will go more smoothly.


Kukla, Fran, and Ollie

Kukla, Fran and Ollie

So I googled the stages of grief from that long-ago-penned book, On Death and Dying by a woman whose name Iremember (Kubler-Ross) because I made the immediate mental connection, when I first read her name, to Kukla, Fran, and Ollie (and no, I don’t know why).

And the stages are these:  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

But then I found out that the Kukla, Fran and Ollie – sorry, the Kubler-Ross – model was based on interviews with terminally ill patients, not a study of grief or – one of my new favorite terms to throw around in self-depreciating sarcasti-city – the bereaved.

Also, it is clear that our pop-culture-y desire to simplify has resulted in some serious over-simplification of the stages of grief that the puppet lady wrote about, which aren’t really even necessarily stages, nor is there a firm order to them, nor a firm definition.

Case in point, I think I am in the anger stage right now.

I’m actually pissed off at even having to type that.

Also, in the past 24 hours, I have ‘spiked’ (my word for white-hot flashes of anger (not to be confused with mental-pausal hot flashes)).. anyway, I have spiked often – and not at the stuff Wikipedia (my go-to of course) says I will spike at.  Wikipedia says I will be angry and think:

“Why me?
“It’s not fair!”
“How can this happen to me?”
‘”Who is to blame?”
“Why would God let this happen?”

Those are all taken directly from Wikipedia. We can talk about God’s senses of humor and irony in another post.

I’m not actually thinking anything like that at all.  Which I think goes to show that we all experience the stages of grief differently.

My own spikes in the past 24 hours have been far more profound, I think. And very personal:

JoHn came in and said that Granny wanted to remind me to fill the bird feeder so the birds would come and she could see them from her window.

My mental spike: “What the F*CK?! Feed the BIRDS?! REALLY?!”

I know, wHierd.

A hair appeared on my chin (shut up, it happens) and I went to tweeze it away and my dependable purple tweezers failed to grab on to it and it was impossible to tweeze it away with them.

My mental spike: “You have GOT to be KIDDING ME! I can’t BELIEVE I have to use the GREY TWEEZERS instead of my PURPLE ONES! These things SUCK!”

Then I realized that I had to take a shower.

My mental spike: “WHY can I just not stay CLEAN LONGER?!”

Ya, it’s clear.

The internet-described manifestations of grief are way more classy than my own experiences, and also more refined.

In addition, probably a little more empathy-able.

But I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, dealing with grief is a whole lot more like the giving birth thing than I’ve thought before now.

Grief is inevitable.

And it fights to get out, in a million different torturous ways.

It also hurts.

A lot.

Even when it is finally out, it stays connected to us, whether we want it to or not (or whether it wants to or not)… forever.

But maybe, I’m thinking, after the pain (and just like with childbirth)…

The love takes over.

That’s what I’m hoping.

That’s where I’m putting my faith.

Thanks for readin’.


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