The Five Stages of Grief: A poem

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CHANGING SEASONS: THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF

I sit silently as the woman across the room analyzes her screen filled with excerpts from my life. She looks at me for a second, perplexed, and then back at her screen: she’s typing something. She asks me if I know what the five stages of grief are. I shake my head as my eyebrows furrow. I never thought there’d be stages to pain, but as we dug deeper into our conversation, correlations within past internal beatings began to resurface and the fog inside my mind seemed to clear.

 

STAGE ONE: DENIAL

I sit solemnly inside my room alone, the dark engulfs me whole. My mother walks into the room a small smile on her face, greeting me with a hint of worry. Questions of why I don’t have the light on or the curtains pulled back pass over me. I tell her I’m “just tired” and she nods shutting my door. My mask falls from my face as I push it back on with fear of someone seeing me in my true state. My parents had just divorced and as a child only in middle school it felt like my whole world was being crushed right beneath my feet. The concept of divorce always seemed to trouble me: especially under the circumstances of my parents’. We seemed so happy together, so why didn’t dad live with us anymore? They must just be mad at each other, right? Dad has to come back.We we’re supposed to be in this together, as a family. We’re supposed to live happily ever after, like Cinderella. He has to come back.Wake up, wake up! This is just a dream and none of it is real.

 

Right?

 

STAGE TWO: ANGER

Guilt pulses through my veins as I talk with him over the phone. Why do I feel guilty? He did this. You don’t have to change just yet, you’re not ready. STOP ACTING LIKE EVERYTHING IS OKAY! He’s angry? Well, you’re angry too! This isn’t your fault. You know who’s fault this is, Gods. Yeah, we’ll just forget all about him and his existence, push our faith somewhere we’ll never remember, then we’ll be okay! It wasn’t grandma’s fault she died, it was his. Or maybe it was yours. Maybe if you just put the stupid dress on none of this would have happened. She’d still be here! It’s your fault, it’s dad’s fault, it’s God’s fault!

 

Isn’t it?

 

STAGE THREE: BARGAINING

Maybe if you were a better daughter then this wouldn’t have happened because that seems like the only plausible reason parents don’t work out anymore. Maybe if you weren’t so needy all the time dad and mom would’ve had time to spend alone. This is my punishment isn’t it, for resenting you, maybe if I prayed harder and went to church more she’d still be here. Right? That’s what you want me to think? Bargain everything I own, as if I have nothing to lose, only to feed the beast that lies within.

 

STAGE FOUR: DEPRESSION

Faked smiles accompanied with false claims of reassurance and lies of tiredness. Gazing up at the ceiling, I’m reminded of all the things gone wrong these past years and I sob quietly into my pillow. The thundering sound of footsteps echo down the hall and my heart races, yet the stranger walks ahead of my door. I triumphantly sit up and wipe off the salty seas that have so elegantly fallen down my eyes and through the small forest of freckles that scatter my face. Rushing towards the bathroom I wash my face in disgust, the puffy red orbs that lurk like morning overcast won’t seem to flee leaving me worrying what everyone’s going to think when they see me. You know something’s wrong with you when there are days where your bed seems like the most comfortable place to be. Don’t get me wrong it is…but this longing to stay in bed is different. It’s not the type that makes you giggle when your mom comes into your room shaking you for the fiftieth time to wake up as she laughs at your droopy eyes. It is the kind that steals those giggles and turns them into pushed back tears and pent up anger; it is depressing. Sometimes it feels like I’m sitting in the back seat of my life watching everything pass by me like blurs of color that I can not feel and it sucks. The numbness that I have succumbed myself to is not compelling and I’d rather die than have to feel this way any longer. I share no interest in things I once loved. I am so tired of everything. I’d hoped for the rain to wash away my problems, so when I’d left my umbrella at home I didn’t think I’d be struck by lightning. The burning sensation tears at my heart and it feels like my soul is on fire. I no longer share genuine happiness. My personality is bitter on the inside yet I’m perplexed at how quickly I can spew out im fines and seem like everything is okay when clearly things are not. I am a lost soul wandering down a road I can not see the end too and that scares me. Falling down tunnels of sadness, yet pushing it down because everyone else is happy so you need to be happy too. Stop throwing yourself a pity party you’re worrying people and you know what happens when people worry. Hide away in your room although it shuts you in like a prison cell it is the only thing that seems to be working right now. Take naps yet wake up groggy and gross feeling still, because you deserve to feel this way. You deserve to be depressed. You’re not okay and although some may say that, that is okay, it isn’t in this house. So shut up, grow up, and suck it up. No one cares and they never did. You were the naive one for thinking so. Disconnect with those that gave your life meaning, go back to the sad songs and forget about your passions, and die slowly in the comfort of your warm bed. And this time around you won’t be saved, and to be honest with you, I don’t think you’ve got it in you to save yourself…

 

STAGE FIVE: ACCEPTANCE

This is the hardest stages to reach. And one of the longest stages to get to as well.

 

The scent of sage ghosts my lips as I exhale. I’ve started letting go of the baggage that’s been weighing me down only taking with me small pictures to remember these tribulations, not to sadden me, but to show me that it’s always worth it in the end. Because that’s the thing about us humans; no matter how many times we break, we bestow that ability to stand back up and take back what’s ours. We have the ability to rise to the occasion proving everyone who stepped on us or told us we couldn’t do it and we’d never get better, wrong. Because growth is a process and sometimes it takes forever and it’s never ending, but trust me, once you start establishing healing in your life things start to align. They say time heals all wounds and maybe it’s going to take us years to find the right Band-aids to cover up all the damage done to our skin by the flames of our pasts. Because in the end you can not die in the storm looking for a rainbow that hasn’t even broken through the clouds yet. Wait things out and give them time and stop acting like there isn’t a war going on inside because there is, always, trust me I know. Because giving your body time to catch up with the world and heal itself allows you to clear that fog that’s made a home behind your eyes clouding your perceptions and thoughts with it’s dark and negative mist. This life isn’t over and you’ve got years to go or you don’t; tomorrow is not promised. Besides that, start fresh and new and turn the tables like the one Jonas Brothers vine because there’s nothing more compelling than ripping the plastic off of a fresh new canvas, your paints already on stand by waiting to consume every corner of the masterpiece you call your life. Sometimes you have to take it all in before the first drop of paint has already been smeared across the surface and sometimes it’s not always the brightest color, but you keep mixing paints waiting for something to happen as the shade gets darker and darker wondering how you’d fallen down a hole you thought was shallow. Sooner or later down the road you finally master the art of contrasting the light with the dark and balancing the color scheme of your soul. Because my god do you have an exquisite pallet filled with the most dazzling colors no one ever knew existed. Although some are dark and gloomy and they cover the bright, you never let that stop you from painting your own happy little trees over them because you watched Bob Ross do it that one sunken spring you spent sulking in your room trying to paint the sun at night. We’re Mona Lisa’s and Starry Nights trapped behind black curtains and gray clouds, but the one thing we must always remember is that the show must go on so we will stand as exhibits; things only people can look at but never touch and create their own painting with, until we’re stolen by the passions the world feeds us. We are no longer monologues of boring past lovers and depressed picture frames, we are exciting canvases that change from season to season but only portraying the most incredulous technicolor this world has ever seen. Now I know. . . some of us haven’t reached this stage yet. And that’s okay. Acceptance is not a one way street and you’ve got to put a lot of time into learning how to eloquently weave bamboo over those scars. But it is worth it. So don’t die in the storm looking for the pot of gold even when there’s no rainbow in sight. Grab your umbrella, raincoat, and some bright yellow rain boots because unlike before when the storm arrives we won’t get swept up with the fishes and drown in our despairs. We’ll be prepared not for everything life throws our way but, for this, of course…