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The art of grieving

Devon Nagle, Student Life writer

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As Macklemore sings in his album ‘Otherside’, “We live on the cusp of death thinking it won’t be us”.

Then, someone close to us dies and we are left in disbelief and shock. People say the first stage of grief is in denial or shock and this could not be more true.

DENIAL
The feeling rams you like a runaway freight train and all these emotions come rushing into you all at once. You sit there in disbelief at what has happened…confused you think but how? How could this of happened to someone like them? Why would this of happened? Questions fill the mind and you look to the heavens but don’t know who or what to ask because what’s done is done and you are left as collateral damage. As you think about it more, you come to the conclusion that they are not in fact gone, it must be a mistake.

This is called denial, its probably the worst of them all because you are now tricking your brain into thinking what has happened never did. False hope engulfs you then you go to call that person or even look at a picture of them then reality comes rushing back and the entire cycle begins again. Like a sad movie you are taken a back with feelings so big that your mind can’t handle them and thought process crumbles. This is usually called a “blackout” your immediate consciousness shuts off and lets your sub conscious take over. During this people usually end up driving somewhere that reminds them of the deceased or reorganizes a room. When they come to there is no recollection of they have just done, this can have negative or positive effects, during shootings that are fueled by the death of a loved one the shooter often describes their state of mind as blackout unable to remember what has just happened. As if the thought of them is a trigger for your brain to shut down but the fact that they’re not here devastates you so much that your brain as a defence mechanism shuts down as if rejecting the idea itself.

ANGER
After a while this constant cycle drives you to anger, usually you end up being frustrated with the person for dying. A common question asked is why did they have to die? If you don’t feel angry with them, you then feel infuriated with the thing that took their life away or even with yourself for not being there. There always has to be something to blame and the constant regret leaves you appalled at the thought of you and at the fact that you’re still here and they’re not. You often find yourself infuriated with a higher power asking why did it have to be them and not me? This leads you again to drastic things such as bargaining away your life or wants.

BARGANING
Bargaining is something typically done on the beach in Mexico not with emotions. The third stage of grief is when one bargains typically with a greater power than themselves, they try to make deals such as “I will never misbehave again if they come back.” Like children they promise to never do something to get what they want. This would usually drive one to insanity, having to constantly plea with an unfamiliar power that will never answer back. Something about death gives you the sanity to go on, not very much of it but just enough that you have the capability to keep the thought process of “I must be better to get them back.” “I must be better.” This must seem familiar by now but if you didn’t notice that is another cycle, a cycle within the cycle of grief.

DEPRESSION
After going un answered for what seems to be years you slip into a depression, as accepting what has happened slowly takes control of your thoughts. You now realize that what has happened can not be fixed and it drives your mind into a deep dark place known as depression where even though you’ve accepted the reality, you’re not okay with it. Being depressed can also lead you to drastic things, extreme measures are sometimes taken where death occurs. This stage though it is near the end can last the longest as anything can trigger you. When you think you’ve moved on into the final stage acceptance something like a picture, sound or even smell can set you off and the whole process begins again. This constant cycle allows the feeling of depression to control all aspects of your life, secluding yourself form others, gain or loss of appetite or not wanting to do activities that you used to love are symptoms of this stage.

ACCEPTANCE
the fifth and final stage is acceptance, once you’ve accepted and are okay with what has happened. You realize even though it was unfortunate you grew as a person to get over them. Not saying that the fact of their death isn’t important you’ll still remember them but you can now live your life without it always effecting you. I recently visited the 9/11 memorial in New York city, it has a large hole in the ground from where the foundation of the building used to stand. They have turned it into a humongous fountain with water pouring form the top flowing to the bottom.

I think this explains what the final stage of grieving is. There still is and always will be a piece of us missing, a hole that we can’t fix. Upon accepting what that hole is, it becomes a thing of beauty as we remember not only the tragedy but also the beauty that they once were.

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The art of grieving