Grief, eh? Slippery little customer. It won’t be defined, no matter how you hard you try to pin it down.
Yesterday I was handed a bejewelled box and a book by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross by my daughter’s counsellor. The ‘intervention’ had come to an end and these were the legacy of the sessions.
The box had been hand-decorated by my daughter and had previously housed shoes. Now it was wrapped in brown parcel paper and covered in sequins. It contained a selection of brightly-coloured toys, stickers and pens, supposedly to comfort her in those moments when she was missing daddy. All I saw was flotsam which would invariably end up strewn about my living room floor. I asked her about the pink elephant.
“It’s a pink elephant,” she said.
“Would you like to cuddle it when you’re missing daddy?”
She looked me as if I’d just shat on the carpet. “……….It’s a pink elephant.”
Six weeks well spent then.
Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist with an interest in dying, who coined five ‘stages’ which are apparently typical of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I came across her soon after M died – those early days when I sought a ‘solution’ to my grief by spending a fortune on books on the subject.
Some books contained ‘road maps’ to recovery. Some were heavy with case studies and testimonials from people who had gone through it and survived. None of them made any sense to me though. I didn’t want to ‘recover’. I didn’t want to hear about other people’s losses. I wanted to stop retching every morning, I wanted the jags of anxiety to stop. I wanted M back and for Him not to be dead.
So my conclusion is this: Grief cannot be corralled or boxed or arranged into stages. Grief is different for everyone, as are expressions thereof.
The only solution is to put your head down and push through it. And of course, drink wine.