There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Kübler-Ross, 1969).
Not all people go through all of the stages. There is no one linear order. Every experience is unique and different.
Usually, the news comes as a shock.
Slowly tears start to arrive. In some cases, tears may not arrive right away.
Still, sometimes no memories can be retrieved.
More tears. More discussions with others.
Gradually memories start to come back.
In my own case, only sweet memories came back.
Moments of laughter. Funny moments. Playing games together. Looking at photo albums together. Talking about history. Deep conversations about life. Many moments of silence. Moments of non-judgmental, empathic companionship. Encouragement. Smiles. Celebrations. When I showed him my photographs, he showed me his—those that he did many years ago. The exchanges of handwritten letters. Numerous visits over the years. Every departure brought tears to our eyes. There was no argument. No yelling. No scolding. No criticisms. No sarcasm. No bitterness. No violence. None. Never… between us.
When I was 9 years old, wanting to run away, he did not ask me any questions and did not criticize me at all. He simply came over, held my hand, and walked me to his home. We walked together, without saying a word. I spent the weekend there, and he helped me with my homework. When I finally moved out by late adolescence, he cried and asked me to be strong.
I keep one object that really signifies him. But the most important of all… are those peaceful memories that we shared; they will forever live in my heart. He has always been living in my heart.
Sometimes, grief comes with a fear of negative drama in the community. There could be a fear of being criticized or judged… and sometimes you may feel like criticizing or judging yourself. In my own case, I know I have given what I could over the years, and I feel at peace. I believe he felt at peace too.
I remind you, that you don’t have to explain to people. Your memories and your experiences are treasures that are shared between two hearts, and this sharing is eternal.
Acceptance. A very peaceful feeling can come… especially when there are no regrets. Gratitude can also be found in the process.
I take a deep breath, wipe away tears that will probably come again, and realize that I am much stronger than I was. Some of this strength comes from him.
Affirmations: I enrich my life when I take my time to grieve and seek counselling or social support during the bereavement period. I enrich my life when I remind myself that healing takes time. I enrich my life when I continue to take good care of myself and take good care of others.
Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. New York, US: The Macmillan Company.