While dawdling around in WTF land a sailing friend put grief into perspective. According to Registered Nurse, Peggy Snead, grief can be divided into two pieces of what I call the the circle of grief; honoring it or scab picking. Unlike Elizabeth Kubla Ross’s model of the stages of death, I experience the process as an iterative cycle. That is, one moves from shock, to disbelief, to anger and acceptance in a random series, over and over.
At times I am angry and regretful, though always sad. Then, I fall back into shock where the visions in front of me are surreal. The Spanish Peaks before me look like a wavering mirage. A dog barks and I am thrown into anger because as I turn my head in the direction of the sound, Ron is not sitting in his reading chair across the room. So, for me the grieving process is a painful circulatory system.
Going back to Peggy’s metaphorical way of coping with grief, my mind is eased with a definitive way to deal with the dynamics infiltrating my soul. Regardless of how close Ron and I were, we both had 64 years of prior relationships. We had never crossed paths before that afternoon six years ago when he sailed into my heart. His string of ‘girlfriends,’ endearing buddies, colleagues, and family also have to grieve. And, I have to allow them to carry on as best they know how.
Each person deals with the death of a loved one or acquaintance in their own unique way. If their behavior impinges on mine, I have to be respectful and grateful they were fortunate to have had him in their life. Most have embraced me in a blanket of warmth that was unimaginable until the morning he didn’t wake up. I feel so connected to his family. I want to be with them along with my family and friends. I keep reaching for the phone to call them late in the day and early in the morning. Those good feelings, according to Peggy, are a way to honor the grief we all share. When we put our arms around each other, we acknowledge that we are each grieving. We admit it.
On the other tack, negative influences that we dwell on, such as when a person doesn’t do what we want, when we want, and how we want are like picking at a scab. We need to do what we can to let the scab heal on its own. We can do this by ignoring it, taking medicine or covering it. We don’t have to answer every phone call. We don’t have to initiate calls. We don’t have to spend our nights wishing we could sleep. And, we don’t have to deny what we think of other people’s behavior. Recognizing the scabs is the first step to healing them.
My dad always said, ‘everything in moderation.’ This is especially helpful to remember during the grieving process. Whether honoring it or picking at a scab, it is acceptable and respectable to take a sip of doctor feel good, or take a toke to ease the pain. In my world as long as you can get out of bed each day, tend to daily chores, and pay your bills, well by golly, you do what you need to do to honor that person whose life ended way before you were ready to let go.