I feel like I should be over Annie’s death by now. It happened four weeks ago after all. Since then, I have returned to work and am being productive once more. I have been spending lots of times with good friends and enjoying myself. I have returned to the gym and am back to eating healthy, raw foods most of the time. But if I am completely honest, I am still very sad.
The other day, one of my best friends asked how I had been doing with all the rainy, grey days we have had over the last month in DC. She was referring to my Season Affective Disorder (or SAD). It’s interesting, but SAD has been the furthest thing from my mind lately. I don’t suffer with SAD at all in the spring or summer. It’s as if there is some internal switch that turns on the deep despair in October, and then shuts it back off in March.
I let her know the SAD was fine, but I was still feeling sad. I miss my Annie so much. I think of her every single day, and my heart breaks each time I realize she is gone. I picked up my phone a few days ago to call her, and then I remembered. I put it back down, and I cried.
Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is best known for her theory of the five stages of grief. One of the seminal psychological studies of the late twentieth century, On Death and Dying was first published in 1969 and grew out of Dr. Kübler-Ross's research on death, life, and transition. She believed that we prepare for death by going through the stages of grief in this order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Some researchers still believe in these five stages. Others contend that they do not occur in a linear progression; you often vacillate from one stage to another with no coherent order.
When I was getting divorced, it felt like I could see evidence of my progression through the stages. For months, I had been in denial about how bad things really were in my marriage. I just kept praying to God and believing things would turn around. Then he announced he was moving out, and I was filled with anger. I raged for months. Eventually, I tried to make peace with the separation. I even went so far as to reach out and see if there was any way we could get back together again; I was bargaining for our future. When he wouldn’t agree, I fell into the deepest, darkest depression of my life. It took two years for me to fully accept that my marriage was over and agree to the divorce.
Losing Annie has been very different. I go back and forth between the five stages on a pretty much a daily basis. Some days, I feel like I get it. I’m grateful for all the good times and lessons learned. I am glad she’s no longer in pain or suffering from her cancer. I know God is in control, and I will be okay. But on other days, I am so sad, so depressed, so upset that I have lost the best person I ever knew. I despair because I have to keep living without her.
Grief is a messy, complicated, irrational thing. I don’t think it matter so much how it progresses, as long as it does—that you do. For me, I am grateful to be in touch with my feelings. I am grateful each time I shed a tear. It means I had this wonderful person who touched my life so deeply that I can feel the loss. It means that I am alive and well and aware of my emotions. It means I am learning and growing and transforming.
I hope none of you are going through the devastating loss that I am experiencing. But if you are, know that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of grief, loss, pain, and suffering together. It may not be pleasant, and it may last a really long time. But at some point, I believe with my whole being, we will reach that place where peace and joy and love can return.
Namaste. The Divine in me honors and recognizes the Divine in you.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.