If you end up going to Mortuary School, you’re going to end up learning about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. She’s like the ‘Go-To’ gal when it comes to grief. I remember spending nights studying with my classmates trying to learn her Five Stages of Grief. DABDA. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. After awhile it started to sound like a Flintstones episode in our dorm rooms with us yelling, “DABDA, DABDA, DOOOO!” (Kidding, kidding…we tried not to yell…) And I mean, sure her theory works. In theory. But (in my opinion) her guidelines are a little outdated. Let me tell you what grief if like from the perspective of a twenty-two year old, new to the business, funeral director.
Grief is like cutting yourself shaving.
Okay, let me explain.
About two months ago I was taking a nice bubble bath. As I put down my book I took a look at my legs in the tub. They needed a good haircut. So I grab the shaving cream and my razor. As I lathered up my legs my mind started to wander. It does that a lot. And maybe I wasn’t paying much attention. Or maybe my razor was too dull. But I cut myself. Bad.
When I say bad you may not just understand how bad. So let me paint you a picture so you know how I felt. On my right leg right above my ankle I basically skinned off two good inches of flesh. Seriously. You know when you’re cooking mashed potatoes and right before you put them into the boiling-hot pot you skin them? Well, potato = Lauren’s leg. I had to pull my skin out of my razor because it clogged it. THAT’S how bad.
My initial reaction to said cut? A blood piercing scream. You can imagine that a cut will hurt, but you never know just how deep the pain goes until you experience it firsthand. Someone can come up to me and go, “Lauren, I’ve cut myself shaving before, I know how you feel.” And maybe they have cut themselves and they do know. But the pain that I felt, it was all my own. Only I know how bad it really hurt me. So what did I do after I cut myself? I took a nearby washcloth and I wrapped it around my leg. Tried to take my mind off of the situation. Hey, a girl has to finish her bath after all.
When I did finish I got out and put two band-aids on the wound. That’s right, one just wouldn’t cut it for me. And I went about my day. And the cut affected me. Because no matter how much I tried to ignore it, the pain was still present. Every time I took a step forward I was reminded about my cut. The next day I took off the band-aids to clean it and to my surprise the cut looked just as fresh as ever. I mean, it was still bleeding! So I washed it, and put on two fresh band-aids. As the week went on I had good days and bad days. I couldn’t wear certain shoes because they brought out the pain in my leg. If I hit my leg against anything I would again be reminded by pain rushing back to the section of my leg where I had no skin. And when (a couple of months later) the cut did heal I was reminded about it again because of the scar that it left behind.
Are you still with me? Or did you have to excuse yourself because my descriptions were too much for you? Let’s recap.
When you’re grieving, people may have gone through similar situations, but only you know how it made you feel. Pain and hurt are difficult to explain. What may feel like a large burden to one person may not be the same for another. Remember your grief is your own.
You may not think that your grief is that bad and you may try to just wrap a washcloth around it and go on with your normal routine. For some people, staying busy helps them. For others, they’ll need to stop and really focus on their grief at hand.
Sometimes, the ‘normal’ amount of time/help/crying just doesn’t cut it with grief. Don’t be afraid to put two band-aids on even though others only used one.
Your grief may still ‘be bleeding’ the next day. When things are fresh it may take some time to get over it. Don’t let this scare you.
You’ll have good days and bad days. There will be things that remind you of your grief. There will be situations that make the grief sting like it’s fresh. It’s all okay.
And lastly, there will be a scar. There is a void in your life where something or someone once was. But you can make the scar beautiful. It doesn’t have to be a painful reminder. It can be a reminder of all the good times and memories that are still in your heart.
So there you have it. Grief, explained by Lauren. I hope that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross can help you if you’re going through a difficult time. She was a pretty awesome lady after all. And if you find that you’re all DABDA’d out, maybe you’ll look at your razor, think of me and my story and smile.