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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I will warn you now that this may be a long post. Most of you know that my oldest daughter passed away unexpectedly in April 2006. I have a firm faith in eternal life and know that I will be with her again. That being said, I also miss her very much and continue to have a hard time dealing with her death. In this somewhat anonymous forum, I thought I'd share my movement through the seven stages of grief. They are listed below and after reading them, maybe you'll understand better where I'm coming from. Right now, I would say I'm firmly rooted in #4, though I do slide back to #1 occasionally and #2 all too often.

I pray for your understanding during this process. I know I'm not the easiest person to know and be friends with, but I hope that I'm worth it. The anniversaries of her birth and death are the most painful and I tend to start falling into that dark abyss weeks before the event and don't start the crawl out until weeks after. Bear with me. My prayers for myself are that I'll come out of this a stronger and better person.

If you ever find yourself wondering what to say to someone who has lost a loved one, just know that you don't HAVE to say anything. A touch, a hug, your own tears say more than any words ever could. And let the person talk about their loved one. I sometimes feel that people are afraid to bring up Shana's name for fear of upsetting me. The opposite is true. I don't want her to be forgotten. Share your memories. We'll laugh and cry together and both feel better in the end.

7 Stages of Grief...

1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

2. PAIN & GUILT-

As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him back")

4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.


5. THE UPWARD TURN-
As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.

6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.

You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

6 comments:

Charlie & Nicole Borders said...

Thank you for sharing. It was special to be able to read your thoughts and feelings. You never cease to amaze me. I really needed to see this.

Lauren said...

I wish I lived closer... Love you mom. Let me know if I can do anything.

The Wheeler 5 said...

the first time i met you guys i was only dating russ. we came out for thanksgiving 2001. i was still trying to figure out who everyone was. i remember shana sitting in uncle ed's recliner, she was one of the first people to talk to me. i was surprised to realize that you guys weren't even related. i was so nervous being there, but she helped me relax a bit. (its funny what we remember sometimes.)

The Bay Family said...

I have soooo many memories of Shana. I loved her and still love her. You're right about not knowing what to say to somebody except that you love them too. And I do!

Marlena said...

You are such a good mother...I don't know if I could ever write those things down on paper....That was beautiful!!!

Tamara said...

Bev(erly) - you have a way with words. I never had the words to express, and it's nice to know that they wouldn't have helped anyway! I can't imagine what someone must feel losing a child. Shana was so willing to learn and smiled at everyone in the hallways at church. She was so nice and accepting to everyone. I can't help but think of what kind of angel she will be, welcoming people as they pass on with loving arms. That pic you posted of her really is a good one of her! I'm sorry that you have to deal with this...it seems as though this happened forever ago, but 2006 seems like it was just yesterday when I was in TN. You are so blessed, and remember that Heavenly Father is keeping her safe until ya'll can once again be reunited!

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