Our society does not deal with pain and loss very well, particularly pain that does not disappear after a week or two. So it should come as no surprise that we may not know how to deal with the pain we experience because of our loss of capacity. Close loved ones also need to grieve the loss, especially if their own lives have changed as a result.
Grief is how we deal with loss. Everyone grieves differently; however, there are stages of grief common to most of us. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book “Death and Dying” defined five stages of grief, which apply to any loss. I have added the final two stages because Kubler-Ross’s last stage leaves us with accepting the loss — there is still a lot to do if we want to contribute to the world around us.
There is a temptation to view these stages as a means of controlling our grief. When I first learned of them, I thought “Ahhh, I go through each stage and then I am done.” Wrong. There is an unpredictable spiral to our grieving. We may not go from one stage to the next systematically. We may spend months or years in one stage and hardly notice another. We will return to various stages over time so we can work through them in a way not possible before.
Most of all, we need to realize that grief is never truly done. Even if we fully recovered, we would still have the loss ability during that time in our lives. We must give ourselves permission and freedom to grieve so that we can experience the healing it offers.
Grieving is not fun, but it is freeing. And the deeper our support from loved ones and community, the easier our journey. If you feel you need more support, please contact your priest or minister, the groups and resources in the link on the left, or myself (“Contact Deacon Patrick” at the bottom of the page). Though we must each travel this journey, we need not travel alone.
Spiral Staircase 11–01–2003
Written nearly one year after my disabling concussion. Simply naming that we’re grieving can free us to experience this challenging form of healing.
Grieving, they say, is a process of
Denial, anger, bargaining
depression, and acceptance.
It is not so clean as that.
The steps are all there,
if not so neatly lined up.
They are arranged in an inwardly descending
spiral staircase to the soul.
The first four steps are only
for the purpose of accepting and integrating
the need to decent the rest
of the staircase.
It is a journey well worth taking,
when necessity requires it,
for with each step into the depths,
One is added into the heights,
where, without the anchor of the depths,
we do not last.
To take the journey, I must first grieve
that I am grieving. Amen.
–Patrick A. Jones