The Stages of Grief

The Scoville Family Reunion has a lot of us thinking about our grandparents. My grandpa died during heart surgery about 16 years ago and it’s been just under a year since the family was together for my Grandma’s funeral.

It was a sad time but many of us were able to take solace in the fact that my grandma’s death was a release from the years of suffering with alzheimer’s and what had become a joyless life.

I overheard my mom talking about how she’s still quite saddened by the loss and how someone at work suggested she take time to truly “grieve”. She said she didn’t really know what the person meant by grieving. Hadn’t she been grieving on and off this whole time?

I googled “stages of grief” and found this list:

  1. Denial
  2. Bargaining
  3. Anger
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance and Hope

I immediately related it to my own situation with Anna. Her decision to move away and date other people feels to me, for all intensive intents and purposes, just as great a loss as I could have had. I realized that I have been going through my own grieving process.

The first strong feeling I had when Anna announced to me that she wanted to call of the wedding was denial. In fact I was in so much denial that I couldn’t even ask her what was bothering her, I just flat out refused to believe that she was actually calling it off. I insisted that what she was feeling was just cold feet and it would pass. Looking back, I think she understood my reaction to indicate that I didn’t care about her concerns.

The next strong emotion I felt was anger. I was angry that Anna was ending what I thought was a great relationship. I was angry at her for not talking about her concerns, and most angry at her for telling me that she didn’t even want to see me again. I was furious that she had called off our engagement over the phone, and now that I was in Vancouver – where she was – she didn’t want to see me before I left for 7 weeks to Malaysia, and potentially didn’t want to ever see me again.

Next I felt a combination of confusion, hurt, and guilt. I wanted to do anything to have her back, and I tried to bargain with her. But my bargaining skills were horrible. I did meet with her in Vancouver, trying to show her that I cared and later I told her I would pay for her to come to Malaysia with me, and when that didn’t work I told her I would buy her gift upon gift. She told me not to waste my money, so I didn’t. I knew that I hadn’t done anything “wrong” per se, and so I asked her plain out to just give me another chance. I tried to take all the blame for what supposedly went wrong but all I accomplished was convincing myself that I did in fact do something wrong. I explained to her that I was trying to do everything she wanted, but her response was that trying wasn’t enough. She made some joke that if I thought it was, then perhaps I had watched too much Sesame Street as a kid. Ouch.

She did try and make me feel better by admitting that I shouldn’t feel guilty because she didn’t really have a reason for breaking up other than she didn’t feel in love with me anymore. She told me that she had only been kidding herself and that she had been “faking love” since before we were engaged. She hadn’t felt truly in love for months. She explained that she still thinks I am a great guy and she would even recommend to any of her friends to date me, but that for her, she just didn’t feel it was right.

Of course I have been sad since the beginning of the break-up. Being in Malaysia I tried to hide it as much as possible, but by the time I returned home, some serious depression set in. I had the job at the University to distract me through July, but the deep sadness returned when my job ended. In addition, Anna decided that in order for her to get over me, she would stop communicating with me. She has always maintained that she would like to remain friends with me (an idea that causes eyes to roll when people hear about it) but whether or not she intends to keep in touch with me in the future, the present void that’s left behind has been a tremendous downer.

All of this has left me bouncing around between these emotions. I have only recently begun to feel the more positive acceptance and hope. I am able to see that though I think her decision is a bad one for her – short-sighted and impulsive, it will work out for the best for me. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

I’m not sure if reading my story is going to help the average person better deal with grief, but writing about it helps me understand that the way I’m feeling is very normal and that I’m close to moving on completely. Just as the pain of death heals with time, so do the pangs of divorce (we weren’t married but for all intents and purposes…) and you know what they say: “The best way to get over someone, is to get under someone else.” It’s been four months. It’s high time I found someone new.

One Reply to “The Stages of Grief”

  1. "but for all intensive purposes"

    The saying is "For all intents and purposes."

    But I guess all intensive purposes makes sense too, in this case.

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