The Stages

I. Denial

You shake your head, the word “no” is being silently screamed out a hundred times over. I see your body, rocking in time to the clock in the corner. I reach out, but you back away in an attempt to create distance. It doesn’t work, but you try regardless. We cannot escape this cycle, and any amount of trying to is fruitless. You avoid, avert, and paint fake feelings over the walls you have built. I am Denial, I shield you from the pain, but Grief does not care, for she is a cruel mistress who we all succumb to, eventually.

II. Anger

I arrive later, taking you by surprise. Feelings you never thought to be capable of grab at you with gnashing teeth, holding you in its grip. You throw things, including the clock in the corner, because you are sick, sick of hearing it, of everything. I hold you against my breast and we destroy together, in an effort to feel something tangible beneath our skin. We rail and rage against the world, snapping at any and all in our path. It is a weak attempt to look away and feel differently than we really do, and it works, for a time. But eventually you tire of me and I fizzle out. I am Anger, I protect you with my sword, but Sadness does not care, she fights me and wins, for she waits for no one.

III. Bargaining

I knock on your door, and you let me in. We stand in front of one another, both waging a war within our heads. I speak first, but before I can form the words you raise a hand, the motion silences me. You begin to ramble, tripping over your words like a child stumbling through their first steps. You start out strong, your voice steady to the point that I think I arrived too late. Soon, though, your voice breaks, and the pitch of it grows higher and uneven. You start to get louder, and the begging and pleading begins. We go back and forth as though we are negotiating prices for a car. The effort you make to justify and turn pain into rational thought fails, and we submit together, feeding off of this game. I am Bargaining, your sounding board to make sense of senseless things. I eventually leave, however, for Loss tells me I’ve overstayed my welcome, and she leads me out the door.

IV. Depression

I come when you least expect it, most likely while you’re sleeping. I wrap around you like a cloak, and keep you there. You awaken in the morning, and look over to see me next to you. I see you try to get up, but I hold you in place. After some struggling on your end, you eventually relax, allowing me to pull you down along my side. We stay like this all day, all night, all week, all month, before I let you get up. I cannot leave your side, so without any privacy, you stop doing the basics. Your hair becomes mussed, you have no groceries, but it’s okay, because I’m here to care for you. I am Depression, and I sustain you with my weight. I leave after a few months, because you get taken to the doctor without my knowing, and Mourning urges me onward, for she knows what comes next.

V. Acceptance

You sigh in relief when I finally arrive, the weight of my four siblings is removed from your chest as I cross the threshold of your heart. You make yourself comfortable next to me, and seek solace in my warmth. I help you walk, guiding you to a better place. You use the strength I lend to lay the rose upon the tomb, and lean into me afterward. Later we go home, and I direct you to the kitchen. We make food and eat in front of the television. The next day, I go to work with you, and together, we relearn how to live. I am Acceptance, Grief is my mother, and when she arrives it falls on us, her children, to guide you through this journey. Death waits for no man, woman, or child, and as long as the cycle of life and death continues, neither will we.

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