We generally talk about there being five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I have long known that there is no schedule for grieving and that people do not go through the same stage,s at the same time, in the same order. What I never realized, until this week, is that one doesn't necessary "do" one stage and then do another, and acceptance doesn't only show up at the end. And, it turns out, I cannot control when I go through or complete these stages. [You're shocked; I can just tell.]
Anyway, here's a little look into my first week of grieving to explain what I mean:
Monday, when we first got the news, I started in acceptance. I had known the negative result was likely. Yes, I had held out some hope, but when the expected news came, I was at peace with it. Mostly. Sad to be sure, but I was somewhat prepared. I was going to be okay.
On Tuesday, I experienced some depression, but I also did some bargaining. "If you just let the beta results be different Wednesday, I'll do x..." I also started trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Maybe I hadn't followed the instructions just right. Maybe I had picked up doodlebug too soon. It felt like it was all my fault.
Wednesday's confirmation of the negative results brought acceptance again, but also anger. I felt like I did when we were first trying to conceive and again when we got our infertility diagnosis. Life was unfair. Why did crack addicts have an easier time conceiving than I did? It made no sense and I was feeling pretty ticked off. Because having someone to yell at can make me feel better, being able to rant at the world in general turned out to be quite soothing in a backwards sort of way.
Thursday brought denial. Maybe it didn't happen because we're supposed to have a "miracle" child. I know chances are close to zero, but what the heck, right? It could happen. We just picked the wrong month to do the procedure. Had we picked a different month, it would have worked. Thursday also brought more acceptance. I finally went back to work and was able to talk openly with people about everything without having a meltdown and bursting into tears at every turn.
By Friday, I was sure I had it handled. Everything was under control. I was calm and cool talking with people about it. I was still sad, and still mourning the loss of the plans I had made for the baby I was sure was coming. But, overall, I had accepted that this was how things were and had made great strides moving forward.
Saturday, I was too busy with a sick child to think much of anything, except, "Oh my goodness! I am soo glad we're not having another one. Could you imagine having to be in the urgent care; cleaning up the barf; staying up all night to hold her so she can sleep without coughing; etc., etc., etc. with a baby in addition?!"
Today, I headed into church. I was not prepared for the overwhelming sadness and sorrow that hit me. I had a meltdown of massive proportions, and it was a very visceral reminder that, just when you think you are healed, things can catch you by surprise and you can feel like you haven't grieved at all. I was left raw and exposed when I didn't expect to be. one walks to the front, takes bread, dips it into the juice, and takes the elements together. It was World Communion Sunday and we took communion through intinction--where every. I almost didn't go. I was crying and I really didn't feel like parading my grief in front of the entire congregation. But, it occurred to me that, really, there was never a more appropriate time to take communion than when I was feeling the most broken. So I went. Still, it was extremely difficult to allow that many people to see me that hurt. Just thinking about it while moving forward in line made me cry harder. I tried not to look at Phil, since he was in the middle of guiding worship, but that only made me more upset. He exercised his pastor's privilege and moved to stand with me and hold my hand and we took communion together. It was lovely in the middle of that moment to be able to have my spouse support me. And, with the exception of one or two well-intentioned people who spouted hurtful platitudes, I received nothing but love and support from my church family. I felt the church, through it's actions, really saying to me, "Peace be with you." Though sad, I felt comforted.
So, where am I now? Back in acceptance for the moment, but who knows where I'll be tomorrow. Such is the nature of grief. But, I'm getting there. In my own way. In my own time.