July 19, 2011

the endless knot

     For about a week, the clouds parted and the curiousness of life pulled me in.  The anger that hung thick like a fog was nowhere to be seen.  Finally, a break!  Surely, the grief would be felt again but it would manifest in different forms.  What naivete.  The fog of anger settles once again in the valley of my mind, thick as it ever was.  Nothing much catches my attention.  I wake up.  I spend half the day battling the fog of anger.  As it begins to slowly burn off, I am left exhausted by the struggle.  Once the anger is placated, nothing fills the emotional void.  Barren emptiness.  I go to sleep numb, wake up and greet the fog again the next morning.  I am Sisyphus, doomed to roll a boulder up the hill only to watch it roll down again.  Repeat ad nauseum.
     The Kubler-Ross model of grief seems to imply some linearity to it.  I am not feeling that.  It's cyclical to me.  Endlessly so.  So it was with some comfort that I came across this passage from Facing Death and Finding Hope:
      Within a few weeks, the "full awareness" of my loss cycled around again, and the heart-wrenching pain and despair were just as intense as they had been the previous month. I was shocked. Why had the pain returned, as fresh and deep as before?
      "All right," I bargained, "maybe I didn't full experience and express all my grief, so this time I will, and then it will be finished."...A month later, the intense life-disrupting pain returned, along with my "full awareness" of the death.  The following month, again.  And the next month, again, with the same depth of intensity as the very first time.
      For two years, she went through this repeating cycle of grief - shock and disbelief, full awareness of the loss, and recovery - over the loss of her husband to cancer.  As she describes it, each trough was just as painful and just as raw as in the beginning.  Stages don't even begin to describe what I'm experiencing.  It's a chaotic labyrinth with no beginning and no end.  More of an endless knot, really.  A relatively recent study empirically tracked the emotions following a loss.  In this study, anger peaked at ~5.5 months followed by depression peaking at 6 months post loss.  And the downward slope after the peak wasn't exactly steep.  You mean this shit gets worse?

2 comments:

Mr Lonely said...

walking here with a smile.. have a nice day ~ =D

Regards,
http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

April Ellis said...

Isaac,

I was a classmate of Josh's at Austin College, although I didn't really know him. A friend let me know about your blog.

My dad died in January 2010, so I can relate well to many of the things you are experiencing. I just wanted to tell you that I think a growing number of people in the field are recognizing that grief is not linear at all, as you have discovered. To me it's been more like a blob, or an ocean that ebbs and flows and swirls around and is amorphous. It would be so much nicer if it were neat and tidy and linear, I think.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Although the subject matter is painful, you're a very talented writer.

Best,
April Ellis