The (Seventy) Seven Stages of Grief.

I saw the end of a very meaningful relationship in late February. Though the split was amicable, timely and necessary, this does not mean it wasn’t what most relational endings are: utterly painful. While this relationship taught me some of life’s most beautiful and powerful lessons, it is possible that the more beautiful and powerful lessons have come in its aftermath. Yeah, lets just say there have been times where I fear there won’t even be enough waterproof mascara left for all of them.  (Authors note: Fear not. I’m making do.)

There have been several occasions in the past five months where I’ve wanted to knock on grief’s door with my list of grievances and yell: “Are you SURE you only have seven stages??? Any chance you meant to say SEVENTY seven???” But then, that feeling washes away, comes back to visit later sometime, settles back down, and so it continues.  It continues until it stops. And then, one day, it will be gone.

I have a friend who says to me repeatedly in my darker moments: “This will end.” To that, I often think to respond: “Define end” or “Will I be getting a Save the Date in the mail for that anytime soon?”

Yes. I would like a timeframe on lesson learning, on grief, on feelings – don’t we all? I notice my tendency to duck my head in case the crapping birds fly by, trying to prevent the undesirable from happening as a means of avoiding it altogether. Since the birds are going to fly by whether or not I duck my head, I may as well just enjoy the darn air without looking like the bloody hunchback of Notre Dame.

But isn’t that the hardest lesson for those of us who have known any amount of grief? The lesson that we cannot avoid pain by living on the defensive – what a little doozie that one is.

So that brings me to my favorite stage of grief – hope.  It’s the seventh one, and they don’t happen in order, which is all the better. Why is this so? Because hope is like sprinkles – usually in a big chunk at the top of the mountain of ice cream, but a few bits fall to the bottom.  It sprinkles the rest of the ice cream cone with color, or chocolate (neither of which I object to.) It finds its way to the less colorful, less chocolately parts from the big mass at the top of the ice cream mountain. It reminds us of the sweetness of life when we’ve forgotten about it.

And so clay becomes porcelain. It loses some of its holes and becomes sturdier after going through the fiery-hot kiln numerous times. In my case, it ends up finding out more of the truth: it never had any holes to begin with and was always complete —  it just needed a reminder. In the end, I can say I’m glad I’ve kept showing up.

That’s all I’ve really had to do the whole time anyways.