Yesterday I wrote on the Foolsletter about moving firewood. It seemed to surface some stories of grief for some people. I’m going to cook the kitten tomorrow. Today, I’m going to follow up with some thoughts on grief.
Grieving is a skill. It’s a skill we either develop or avoid.
Grieving is a natural process that our bodies go through.
Grief works best when we get out of the way and let the process take care of itself.
Grief is inevitable. It has to be. Half of all life is loss. Everything that comes into your life, you will loose, including your life.
All of those skills you love and value?
They’re going to go too
Even simple things like walking and wiping your ass by yourself?
These too shall pass.
You may have heard of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She came up with the notion that we go through five stages of and then grief is complete.
Why don’t they go to four?
This grief model echoes of our silly human attempts to put things into digestible packages.
Eight minute abs. Seven Habits of Highly Effective Assholes. Six Minute Abs. Five Stages of Grief. Four Cardinal Virtues. Three Primary Virtues. Squeeze out a Deuce. Go number one.
Since then various others have added stages of anxiety, dread and finally meaning making.
When people come with formulaic ways to structure human experience I typically giggle. Not because their structures are funny. No, I giggle because people look at these observations that have been converted into a system as the truth rather than a set of observations and expectations.
Unfortunately, the stages of grief are as much of a ‘truth’ as Mickey Mouse. These are observations. What’s worse however, people look at these guidelines in attempts to determine where they are based on where the model supposes they ‘should be’
Here’s my model:
Public Domain, File:JiffyPop.jpg - Wikipedia
When you’re in grief, a lot of shit is popping. Our job is to cook our emotions fully so that all of the hard ugly kernels are fully popped. If not, they can be difficult to digest. So, the stages? They’re not linear. You don’t go from one to another. They start popping really quickly at first. Eventually things show down and we need to balance between keeping things heated to get the last hard ones cooked and burning the fluffy goodness.
Once popped, our job is to eat the grief. We need to consume it. Chew it. Process it all. We can do this all at once, or over time. Slowly, we eat our grief. The hard ones are more dangerous. Some can get caught in our teeth. Others might break a tooth all together. Over time the grief gets consumed, processed and integrated into part of us. The parts of grief that don’t serve us? They help us scour ourselves internally. Grief is helpful in clearing out the gunk in our internal functioning ways - so long as it keeps moving.
By consuming and integrating aspects of our grief, the experience becomes not one of ‘stages’ but one that becomes part of us. We integrate the experience of grief. Grief and grieving changes us.
Puppies and Kittens
Joyous little creatures eh? Love them. And? They’re likely going to die before you do. This is a good thing. Dead kittens? No. Pets dying before people. I think of pets as training wheels for grief. We love them. They delight us. Then they die. We learn to grieve. We learn to let go. We learn to move on. We get better at grieving.
All the joy you experience from a new puppy? That’s a promise of future pain. The delight a child experiences caring for something other than themselves? They make the investment of time, energy, and love, only to have that love ripped away mercilessly by existential reality. Our animals help us be more human. They help change us forever by reminding us that life is ephemeral.
This is the beginning of a longer piece on grief that will likely take up a large part of The Book of Wrong Answers.
Any funny funeral stories out there?
One Derful Thing
Pretend that you’re a powerful politician. Wizened and wary through time. You understand the gravity of leadership.
And right now? You’re ‘playing leader’.
So. Find a video of a politician you admire. Or one that you respect. Or one that you’d love to just make fun of.
Understand that leadership and all of the burdens that come with it is both serious and ridiculous at the same time.
Find instances to say things like:
In the current climate, given everything that we’re facing as a nation, I’m going to need a bit more time before answering that.
How else could you pretend to be a big deal?
If you spent the day pretending to be Angela Merkle would people figure it out?
Let me know what you find.