This is the first in a series. The grief stages. These are my experiences, you may be different. You can quote me all you like but your journey will be completely different and that’s ok, that’s YOUR journey and this is mine.
Let me start by saying that grief isn’t as cut and dry as stage by stage and then you’re done. Though there are many times I wish it were.
It doesn’t happen as they state it does; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
You’ll bounce from one to another over and over, sometimes skipping steps along the way. There is no real order and so when I write about them, it could go from the big recognisable grief to something that happened early days to something that’s happening now.
I can tell you however that each stage gets shorter and easier to deal with over time, in my experience anyhow. It’s almost like you’ve created a scar tissue associated with that pain and so when it hits further down the track, you know what to expect, another layer of tissue adds to the wound and you can breathe more easily.
Denial comes and goes. Obviously, at the beginning, it’s constant but it doesn’t actually go away from what I can gather, it just becomes less prominent in the journey.
My experience of denial has been; the disbelief that I will never see him again in this life time. My spirituality has taught me this is only ‘temporary’, for the duration of my life on this earth but that’s another topic for another day.
When we were told that we’d lost him my immediate reaction was; What? No. That’s not possible. Huh? You’re lying. This must be a dream. Prove it. What the fuck? This is a joke, I bet he’s in there having a good old laugh. What? What? Whaaaaaaattttttt? Where the fuck is my husband?
But then I realised, and I felt like the ground had just fallen out from under me. He was gone. The look on his siblings faces said it all. We were about to travel to hell and back and we had no say in the matter whatsoever.
Denial. Waking up that first morning without him. For just one second, I was ok and then I remembered. OMG, What the hell? Did that happen? Instant heart break. It tore through me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, only stopping briefly at my heart where on it’s way through tore strips where a whole heart had once been.
I sobbed. Like, really sobbed. My little sister, who had taken place in my bed woke instantly and curled right up in behind me. I think I wailed. I don’t remember but I think I did. I couldn’t wrap my head around the reality of this. How was it possible that he was no longer alive? That stuff didn’t happen to us. Surely this was a very bad dream, I’d wake up and he’d be there hugging me and telling me I was having a nightmare. Nope. I was awake and this was real.
The denial stuck around. It was mixed with a numbness brought on by my self protection mode and a whole lot of booze. Instead of my favourite part of the day, my morning coffee, I was bringing in the morning with Rum and not just the regular kind. Can after can of overproof rum. The kind that would knock out a healthy horse. Without any thought. I didn’t care, I just didn’t want to feel this.
I was, simply put, a complete and utter mess.
Denial came in waves. The little things I’d think of and try to pretend like it was only for now.
He wouldn’t be the one comforting me through this.
Never again would he whisper my name.
He wouldn’t drive into the driveway after work.
He wouldn’t send me a love text every morning during smoko.
Never again would I get that annoying phone call everyday, “Baaaaaaaby, what’s for dinner tonight?”
Along with a million other little things he’d never do again. I couldn’t believe it. It was just for now, right? He’d be back and everything would go back to normal. If I just got on with feeling this stuff, he’d come back and we’d be fine. This was just a lesson in appreciation, surely? Alright, I get it, I appreciate you and what we have. Now come back!
But he wasn’t coming back, no matter how much I denied it.
The funeral proved to be the place I finally realised that for the most part.
As I watched his coffin being lowered into the hole in the chapel, it hit me, that is the very last time I will ever ever be in his presence. Ever.
As I walked out of that chapel at the end of the service, this feeling came over me. I was either going to vomit or faint. Or both. I broke out in the sweats, my face lost all colour and I whispered, I’m going to fall. I didn’t know anyone was around me but in seconds, I was being guided to a chair brought over by my quick thinking brother in law.
It was there that I sat as people came to me to hug me and tell me how sorry they were. I was surrounded. By people close to him, by people I didn’t know, by people who loved me. Tears, and whispered condolences. People saying things that I can’t remember. It was all happening in slow motion. What was I doing here? How did I get here? What the fuck is this? Please someone just kill me and put me in his coffin, will you? That’s the only place I wanted to be right at that moment.
As time has gone on, the list of things I’m in denial about has become shorter. Even then, they’re over fairly quickly. Thought, sadness, reality, getting on with it.
I still have moments where I forget and wonder when he’ll be home.
I still think, “Oh, it’s 10am and I haven’t heard from him, he must be busy.”
I still sometimes buy his favourite foods, wonder if he needs any socks, think he might like a new pair of boardies.
I still reach over to his side of the bed sometimes to see how long he’s been up judging by the warmth on the sheets.
I still think sometimes that I should call him and ask him something.
The moments are fleeting now though. They last just a second. I remember, feel sad and then try to occupy myself until the moment passes.
Denial is a bitch. The “This isn’t possible!” is horrible and hard to swallow. But it gets less as time goes on. You work it out somewhere along the way, it just sort of folds into your reality. I no longer have long moments of denial, which is good. They really fucked with my head and I never want to have to deal with them again to that extent. The other phases come and go somewhat but the denial… Yeah, I’ve got it. He ain’t ever coming back. 😦