You know those famous "Stages of Grief" that, if you are lucky, you only ever learn about in a psych 101 class? All neatly lined up in a row, like levels in an old Nintendo game? Complete each emotion and Congratulations! You win 1000 gold coins and two extra lives. Maybe even the ability to shoot fireballs out of your hands.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
In real life? It doesn't work like that. For one thing, there are a few that got left out. Fear. That's a big one. What will happen to my loved one? Did they suffer? Will I survive this? Will this be the thing that turns one of my children into a prize winning medical researcher and the other into a crack addict? Will I be alone forever? Will I end up making awful decisions that will haunt me for the rest of my life?
Remorse, followed by its creepy uncle, Guilt. Why didn't we make the time to be together more? Why did we spend so much time sitting in front of the tv instead of going out and living? Why did I get angry over stupid shit? Why didn't I appreciate them more? Why didn't I know something was wrong? Why wasn't it me? And the What if's... those are endless.
I remember Bargaining, at first. In the beginning, reciting in my head (and sometimes out loud) all the ways that I would change, the sacrifices I would make if something, anything would just keep him alive. That ended pretty quickly for me. I felt stupid beseeching a universe that obviously had no regard for my family. And then there was nothing left to bargain for.
There was nothing to deny. When you are faced with watching the love of your life be hit by a freight train in slow motion, well... there isn't really anywhere else to look. The reality of it punched me in the gut and ground my face in the dirt, I didn't have the energy to pretend it wasn't happening.
Depression? Oh yes. Though as someone who has been clinically depressed (as in, I'm just one of those lucky people who just cannot produce enough happy juice in my brain) for most of my life, I have to argue for another word. Yes, the feeling definitely has aspects of depression- despair, the inability to enjoy anything, sleep and appetite disruption, wanting seclusion from the world in general- the depression following a loss is much, much... more. Because the feelings make sense. Your world is torn apart, why should you enjoy anything? Why shouldn't you sleep away days? Why eat when you have absolutely no desire, for anything? Nothing will make you better. Nothing will make your world bright again. The bleakness settles into your cells and it feels like it will never go away. And you've seen it, firsthand... someone who never quite got back to living. Who plodded through life with no joy and eventually withered away, lonely and broken. I hope someday I will be able to do more than go through the motions. I have some hope, because even now I am able to laugh. I'm still alive, at least a little. If I weren't I don't think this could possibly hurt as much as it does.
Anger. Yes, I am angry. I am furious. So much so that it leaves me cold and petty and graceless. Want to know a horrible truth? Everything makes me angry right now. I avoid grocery shopping because you, over there with your perfectly nuclear family? You piss me off. Everything and everyone is a reminder of what I no longer have. I'm angry that the new Star Trek movie is out, because I can't stomach going as a third wheel. And I don't want to go alone, and that makes me even madder. I've never been afraid of doing things by myself... in fact I've often prided myself on the fact that I am comfortable in solitude. Except now that solitude is poison. Suffocating. I hate that I can't even induldge in my celebrity gossip guilty pleasure because It. Is. Fucking. Infuriating. Fuck you, Angelina Jolie, for having enough money to just cut out the parts of you that might someday give you cancer. I hope you get malaria and vaginal warts. Fuck you, bill collecters. I don't care right now. I don't even care that not caring right now will bite me in the ass sooner or later. I don't care that you are just a person trying to get by with a horrible, demeaning job. Fuck off. I hate the fact that my own body cannot even give me a break and that emotional pain isn't enough, how about some physical suffering to go along with it?
Yes, it is safe to say I am a seething black hole of fury and resentment the moment. I snap at the people I love most and am rude and impatient with the public in general. And I am too sad and angry to even feel that bad about it.
Acceptance is a long way out. I catch a glimpse of it, every now and then. Fleeting. But enough to give me a little hope, that someday I will be human again.