Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stages of Grief: Depression, then Acceptance

As I said in my last — and excuse me for getting a bit repetitive here — I didn't recognise depression when it arrived recently. I don't think I've ever experienced it before. (Lucky me. I know people who suffer from it frequently, and 'suffer' is the word.) I was calling it things like 'emptiness' and 'pointlessness'. Eventually it occurred to me that there was a pattern happening, so I looked up the 'Stages of Grief'. Oh. Depression. Yes, that description fitted. 

'It can't be very serious,' I thought. 'I haven't been having suicidal thoughts ... oh, hang on, yes I have.' I was so deadened that I didn't experience those thoughts as dramatic, so I wasn't paying them any attention. 

'What if they're insidious?' I asked myself. So I decided I'd better see the psychologist Andrew and I used to go to.

Then, just when I'd arrived at those realisations, the next stage came along. I had some strange understandings — I might even call them epiphanies — one after the other. 

The first one came to me as, 'I'm where I've always been headed.' 

Andrew and I always knew that, barring accidents, he'd go first. He was nearly 11 years older than me, and he had quite serious health issues, albeit well controlled most of the time. 

And it came to me that I had been waiting all my life for time to myself. Well, this is not quite true. In the brief period between my first and second marriages, I was hellishly lonely. Nevertheless, I am — fortunately, in present circumstances — essentially an introvert and have usually enjoyed my own company. In fact, in the past I often craved solitude. I experienced it as a need.

If ever Andrew was away for a few days, which sometimes happened, I loved it. It's the permanence of his absence and the lack of choice in the matter that has made it so hard to bear now. That and the fact that I have been releasing much grief which was, of necessity, bottled up over the last months — even years — of his life. 

Before his final hospitalisation, knowing the end was inevitable, but not how long it would be in coming, I prayed that he would have as long as he needed and that his quality of life would remain sufficient during that time — but I also prayed that it would be soon enough for me to make a life for myself afterwards. 

I was very clear, however, both before and after his death, that the said new life would not include a new partner. I wanted time with me.

All these factors added up to the conclusion that this single, solitary life is exactly where I was always headed. Another way of putting it, I decided, is that I'm exactly where I'm meant to be.

I was settling into that realisation when I had another. I'd been slightly pissed off for some time that, although I kinda knew Andrew was still available, I hadn't experienced his presence very much. Then, suddenly, I had a vision of him up in the blue sky (where we always mentally locate heaven) happy and joyous, dancing. It hit me that instead of him coming down here to be with me in my gloom, I should be going up there to join him in his joy — not by dying, but raising my vibration, putting my consciousness there. And indeed, I can do that. I've had years of training.

All that created a big shift, emotionally. I'm not doing anything different, but I feel different. It dawns on me that I've arrived at acceptance. And here I appear to be staying.  

It is punctuated by moments of intense grief and tears, still, which can be triggered by all sorts of memories. And I have it on the good authority of widowed friends that the stages of grief don't go through a nice, neat, linear progression and then finally stop. Oh no, they can get all mixed up together, as I've already experienced; and then, after you've been through them all, they can return without warning, any old time, for years to come. Oh well. The present position is still a big improvement on what went before.

I kept the appointment with the psychologist. 'I've just reached acceptance,' I told her, 'And at this point I come to you.' She said she thought it was probably a good idea, with the anniversary of his death starting to loom close. Then I wept for an hour, telling her the whole story. 

'Each time you tell it,' she said, 'Or part of it, it becomes ...'  Well, I can't remember what she said it becomes, but something useful. Integrated, perhaps.

She thinks I've reached this point quite quickly, and that it must be due to all the ongoing support I've had from friends on and offline. I couldn't agree more! You've all been amazing. Being responsible for two cats has helped too, and so has the writing.

People have started telling me, in some surprise, how well I'm looking. And I feel well! It feels as if I'm no longer just marking time while being without Andrew, but that I am living my life again.

2 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary,

    Here I'am a little late for the SWS but really really so happy to read this post, actually I read it twice.

    I like your conclusion of course but most of all the fact that you feel and talk about acceptance. Actually I'm glad it's happening and like the idea that you like you life again.

    I'm not sure the depression time is over forever for me, but I know I also reach a certain level of acceptance, I'm able to talk about my father without crying, by using the past and simply talking about him. I never did before, let say that it was never my initiative and I hate questions about him, meeting people who once knew him etc....Of course, there's nothing to be compare once again, a daughter is not a wife.


    I need to go back to your post to mark some points :
    I like this phrase : "I might even call them epiphanies — one after the other. "

    This is something I could have wrote : "I am essentially an introvert and have usually enjoyed my own company. In fact, in the past I often craved solitude."

    And this is exactly a conclusion I also made months ago : "All these factors added up to the conclusion that this single, solitary life is exactly where I was always headed. Another way of putting it, I decided, is that I'm exactly where I'm meant to be."

    Thank you for this share, I'm not superstitious, but I think that sometime we meet people not only by case, and I guess I have to come here and learn something from you.

    Take care

    Grace

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree that some meetings come about for a particular purpose. Be that as it may, I enjoy meeting with you here!

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