Friday, January 16, 2015

Going 'Round in Circles all the Time

Things feel different to me lately. Maybe it's because the holidays were so rough, maybe it's because the anniversary of Maggie's passing is rapidly approaching. I don't know for sure. But I know that I feel differently.

The first part of the grief journey is really shock, I suppose There is so much to deal with emotionally that one is simply on overload. Aside from the obvious emotional upset, though, there is so much more. The person who was the center of this household for 20 years was gone. Her physical presence was so much more than her person. The practical side of losing her was also daunting. Of course there were her clothes and personal items to deal with. And I will get to that, We had equipment and special furniture that we had to find homes for. We had to sell the wheelchair van and buy another car,  Her room was off the dining room and now sits underutilized because we don't know what to do with it.  We will get to it. All of it. Soon.  Or not.  The thing is, all of that takes time. We have been doing it all for the last 11 months -- slogging through emotionally and handling the practical things in somewhat of a fog.

For lack of a better description, we had to deal with the novelty of Maggie being gone.

It was new and different and terrible
Now it's just different and terrible.

It has become real. And that creates a whole new layer of grief.

There is so much written about the "stages of grief" and I admit I have used them myself. The idea has some validity. However, they seem to suggest some sort of order or resolution to grief and that simply does not happen. At least not for me.

For those of you unfamiliar, the seven stages are


Frankly, I think this model is better applied to a break up of a relationship or maybe to a lost job  than to a death - and especially to the death of a child.  Maybe some people go through these stages in an orderly fashion and feel better, but I am not one of them.  I jump through all or most of those stages randomly about 10 times a day in no particular order and start all over the next day.Admittedly the days that I experience more of the last three are better than the days that have the first four; but  I can't control it.

 Of course I accept that she has gone, which is the last stage of grief, but that doesn't make me feel any better.  There still isn't a resolution. People think enough time has passed. People don't want to see me sad.  People don't want to talk about Maggie to me. I get that. But no matter what people think, it's all still there.

Perhaps there is just a bit more depth to all of this than a pop psychology analysis. Perhaps the stages of grief are multi layered.  The best analogy I can come up with is the Earth's orbit in the solar system. The Earth is spinning on its axis and also making its rotation around the sun.

We have been spinning for 11 months now. Every day it starts again. We wake up and she's gone. We go to bed and she's gone. We sell the van, donate her equipment, slog through our days and keep going. We start again the next day.

But we are also making that slow trip around the sun. The seasons come and go (even in California). The days got longer and then shorter and now are starting to get longer again. Life goes on. And she's gone.  But we are moving forward - or at least in a bigger circle.

  Perhaps there isn't supposed to be a resolution.  Maybe my life is forever changed. And maybe, just maybe it is OK that my life is changed. The reason my life changed is not OK, but I have to recognize it that it has.  I can "accept" that, too.

So I will keep spinning and rotating and tilting this way and that on my axis. The seasons will change and the days will be longer and shorter. Maggie will still be gone, and I will be different, But I will keep spinning    



  1. My maternal grandmother and I were very close. I loved her so much and tend to think that I am very much like her partly because of genetics and partly because of the love I had/have for her and my desire to be like her. I will not say that my loss is to be compared to yours because it is not I acknowledge the huge difference between grandparent and child but the similarity is this, my great love for her. I woke up the other morning with such a pain in my heart for her I had to hold back tears and I thought of you, honestly I did. I do not know how one goes through the pain of losing a child when the pain I still feel is so strong. I am sorry Sally. My thoughts continue to be with you, Kim

  2. The grief therapy group I attended spent a lot of time talking about the stages of grief, and how they're frankly a silly model. It was helpful for me to hear that I didn't "have" to follow them, and I'm still jumping around the stages several years later. One of the therapists gave me a poem (here: that I really liked and reflect on often.

  3. I read somewhere that the now-cliched stages of grief are inadequate and can actually do a disservice to the profound impact of real grief. From what you write here, from the strength that you've shown -- always -- in your life with Maggie - I just have to believe that you are feeling and doing all the things necessary not to get over your loss but to live with your loss.

  4. Perhaps this sounds a bit odd, but I wonder if you'd like a quilt made from Maggie's scarves or favorite clothes? She had enough that quilts could be made for you and each of her brothers. I'd gladly volunteer, or if you'd rather not go with some stranger in the computer, there are people who do such as their business.


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