People keep asking me how I am doing. Answer—good days, bad moments. Generally I move through the day feeling like I’m mostly coping. But occasional tsunamis of grief overcome me. The tsunamis tend to come at the end of the day. When the sun begins to set I feel his absence. I’ve been shouting aloud at the absent Mike, saying, “Where the hell are you? Why did you die, you shithead?” I immediately apologize for calling him a shithead. He wasn't a shithead and I know he wanted to die even less than I wanted him to die.
Once again, I cycle through at least four of the stages of grief: disbelief/denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. The bargaining stage is no longer part of the cycle for me. I can go through all of these in the course of a single day, sometimes in the course of a single hour. No, I can’t believe it really happened. When I do believe it, I get incredibly angry, but I don’t even know the object of my anger. Can I simply be angry with cancer? Can I curse the fate of us human beings who, from the moment of our conception are doomed to die? Or when I realize this unfocused anger is futile, I become depressed because I miss him. I want him to comfort me. I want to pick up the phone to call him, but he’s not there. Then, for a while, I accept that he has died until again I can’t believe it, get angry, and then become depressed.
I know about the flipping stages of grief. I got a graduate degree in psychology. But the graduate degree in psychology doesn’t help one iota when I’m the one in the thick of it. Cognitively I know that a person doesn’t cycle through the stages of grief once and call it done. I’ll go through it over and over again, in order or not in order, in a short amount of time or what seems like forever. It hurts.