"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The 7 Stages of Grief

Dear friends,

Since my Dad's recent Homecall, I have learned about the 7 Stages of Grief. I had heard something about these stages years ago, but never paid much attention. Until my Dad passed away.

About a week after my Dad's funeral, I decided to check it out and see if I am grieving "normally", by the standards of this website anyway.

 Stage one is shock and denial.
Ok, I was shocked when Dad went Home, even though the doctors tried to prepare us for the inevitable. But how do you prepare to tell your Dad good-bye? Maybe my mind was trying to protect me from the reality of it. And, almost 5 weeks later, the shock still hasn't worn off.

As far as denial, I am pretty sure that I am still in that stage. I just got home from visiting my Mom 30 minutes ago. And as I sat talking with her in the family room, I almost expected Dad to coming walking in from the kitchen after filling up his iced tea mug, even though I had just been in tears a few minutes before after seeing Dad's watch  on his table beside his recliner. And knowing he will never wear that watch again. I just can't seem to reconcile myself to the fact that he is gone. So yes, denial is my friend right now. It's helping me deal with all this.

Stage two is pain and guilt.
Oh, yes, the pain is horrific; physical pain, I mean. I am not sure where it comes from, but it is definitely real. The website says to "fully experience the pain, and not hide." Looks like I am right on track with this one because, believe me, I am doing that very thing. No hiding or repressing it here!

Guilt? Well, I can honestly say, I haven't experienced guilt - yet. Maybe that will come later. But I look back with wonderful memories of my Dad. And near the end of his earthly days, all the time I spent with him at his appointments and at the hospital; I am so thankful for all those special moments together.

Stage three is anger and bargaining.
I confess that I have been angry at some of the doctors at the hospital. As soon as my Dad was diagnosed with sepsis, he should have been started on Flagyl, the antibiotic specifically for sepsis.
But he wasn't given Flagyl until he was admitted to ICU. By then, he had already been exhibiting septic shock symptoms for 24 hours. Plain and simple, it was just too late.
 I have been told that I can't keep thinking about the "what ifs".
I know that. It was Dad's time to go and there was nothing I or anyone else could have done to stop it.
After 5 weeks, most of the anger has gone; I know that the Lord took Dad when it was his time to go, and it was His will to take Him. 

Bargaining. Well, there hasn't been any bargaining.
Dad can't come back, and even if he could, he wouldn't want to.
Why would he want to put on his sickly body and come back to this earth with all the sorrow and horrible things that are going on?
Nope...no bargaining.

Stage four is depression, reflection, and loneliness.
I am not really depressed. Just plain sad. Empty.
 Hollow inside.

I am doing alot of reflecting...starting with childhood memories and continuing to just before he passed. So many wonderful memories, but they are all a reminder that there will be no more memory-making with Dad. Then the sadness begins all over again.

Loneliness...yes, especially when I visit Mom. At her house, I am surrounded by Dad's things. He was a cabinet maker and wood worker. His beautiful furniture is in every room. His handmade frames are on the walls. He. is. everywhere.  Even though my Mom has been inundated with visits from all of us and other family members and friends, it is still lonely there. He absence can be felt physically. And when we have all gone home, I can't even begin to imagine how lonely Mom is without him.

Stage five is the upward turn, when I am supposed to be adjusting to life without Dad. Seriously??
When does this stage kick in??
Hopefully soon.

Stage six is reconstruction and working through.
Reconstructing my life without my Dad...well, I am not sure if that will happen any time this year.
The grief is still very raw, and certain reminders of him can start the tears flowing. And I turn into a basket case.

Stage seven is acceptance and hope.
Just when I think I have accepted his passing, something happens and I get thrown back into stage one again.

And hope? Well, my hope can only come from the fact that Dad was a Christian and I know that he is with the Lord right now. I have always had that hope....even while we were in the ICU with Dad, weeping and telling him goodbye (for now), and then watching him step into Heaven.
Without this hope, I would have nothing...and to know that I will see Dad again is such a wonderful comfort.

So from the looks of it, at any given time, I am apparently in several stages of grief at once. And I sometimes even bounce back to a previous stage. I have come to realize that there is no "normal" way to grieve.
The Lord created us all differently; so we will all grieve differently.
I hope this post is a help to others who might be grieving at this time.

 He is "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort"  (2 Corinthians 1:3)

Have a blessed day, friends.


  1. Hugs hugs and more hugs. This is painful to read. The last stages probably won't come before the first or second year is up. Most say significant healing comes after two years have passed, but that doesn't mean your current level of sadness lasts that long. I am so sorry, Lisa!

    1. Thank you for commenting, dear friend. I like the phrase, "significant healing" and I am waiting for that day.
      I know that you are going through trials right now, too, and I am remembering you and yours before the Throne of grace.
      Love to you!

  2. Oh Lisa, BIG (((HUGS))). I wish I could take this pain away, but it's good too, because there is much Love inside it. It's a process... a really long process. And the more one was loved, the longer and harder it is. I can really understard your shock & denial as it seemed to all happen way too fast; that is, not like it was with my dad where he had been sickly for years and it felt like I lost him long before he was gone, but the finality of it all still is hard. And like you said, I don't think everyone has to go through all those stages, esp. as Christians. I guess I really don't understand the bargaining one... has that brought anyone back?? I didn't feel any guilt either... perhaps more like regret. Regret that I wasn't able to be there more as we live over an hour away and the girls were very young then. And there are always the second guesses and "what ifs" when it came to hospital decisions. It helps knowing that "it is appointed (decided beforehand by God Himself) unto men once to die" of the day & time and He has it all under control. Do you mind if I ask, "How old was your dad?" My heart is with you dear friend! Even though it's been nearly 14 yrs. since my dear daddy passed, I don't think there is a week that goes by that I don't shed a tear. The lump in the throat, crying at a drop of a pin, and the extreme emotional drain will fade in time, but for now, it's okay. It's a time to grieve (Ecclesiastes 3). Love You!

  3. Thank you, Jane, for validating all this and for your words of encouragement. Thank you for saying it's okay to grieve. Some people have tried to make me feel guilty for crying, telling me that I should be rejoicing that Dad is with the Lord. But the fact remains: I have lost my Dad. And. I. miss. him.
    My Dad passed away June 12th, 3 days before his 83rd birthday. And this year, his birthday happened to fall on Father's Day: the same day we had family night, or as some call it, visitation. Seeing him in the casket on his birthday was more painful that I could have ever imagined it to be. But I knew that that wasn't really my Dad...just his shell. The very essence of my Dad had already been in Heaven for 3 days by that time!
    Love you, too!

    1. Oh my. Even Jesus wept. He could have told everyone to cheer up, or He could have gotten angry over the thoughts and lack of faith of those around, but He chose to weep. And even though we know of the/our ultimate victory, there are a lot of passages that speak of grieving. Many things today grieve me to tears. pfff. Just never mind those people, yes, we can have a deep down peace since we know where our dad's are, the grieving doesn't nullify that, but it's very okay to miss them too. And Oh, I am so sorry to hear of timing of your dad's death, God knows, but those special days like his birthday and father's day make it extra hard. (((more hugs))) & tears with you. ♥

    2. Thanks again, Jane, for the words of comfort. I realize that people are probably trying to help/comfort me by saying that I should be rejoicing. But it only makes it worse. Aren't we supposed to weep with those who weep?? Trying to dismiss the grieving process only compounds the grief.
      Love to you!

  4. Thanks for writing this. I have not lost any of my parents YET. But, if ever a time comes when they part before me, I will know where to come to read about how to deal with all this.

    1. Dear Silvia,
      I am by no means an expert at this; I am learning as I go. But unlike most other learning processes, this is a very painful one.
      Thanks for stopping by, my friend.


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