This is really apt this week, today especially. (Not because of Maggie Thatchers death, mind you, but due to a family bereavement.)
The 7 stages of grief are as an accepted notion as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Things have been researched and categorised and put neatly into psychological boxes. This is all well and good, except I don’t think it’s useful when you are grieving to know that you are following a well-researched process of actions. I’m sure everybody’s grief feels unique and personal to them. Maybe it’s useful after, but at the time, I’m not so sure.
These stages of grief can be applied to losing a loved one through bereavement or the end of a relationship. It can be applied to the death of a pet or the loss of a job. It is anything which challenges the accepted norms.
The stages of grief are typically:
– Shock or Disbelief
– Acceptance and Hope
Everybody moves through the stages at different speeds. People don’t follow them in order and several of the stages may happen at the same time. You may pingpong back and forth between them all. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no perfect way to honour someone who means so much to you.
I have witnessed grief on many levels, both within my family and friend circles. I have watched people struggle to overcome huge heartbreak and I have struggled to understand how the world can be so cruel sometimes. I find it difficult to find meaning in these things. I find it difficult to understand the timing of things.
Who saves who when it comes to grief? Who shows you that there is something worth laughing at or living for? If you don’t believe in God who does that for you? I’m not sure about the whole God thing. I am spiritual in some ways; I believe in goodness, doing right by others, treating people kindly and being a positive force in the world. So maybe it’s more organised religion I have a problem with. The idea that there are a certain set of people making judgements and rulings on other peoples lifestyle choices. I don’t like the idea of blaming some Godly figure when earthquakes happen or a child is murdered. I don’t quite like the idea of one big dude sitting up on a cloud juggling so many hearts and minds. It doesn’t bring me any comfort to hold ‘him’ responsible for all of the evil and hatred I see in the world. I don’t feel relief from that. And I’m sure that if someone I loved was dead I would get no comfort in turning to “God” for help. But that’s just me. Maybe it helps some people and I respect everyone’s own way of muddling through the grief. And I think it is a muddle. No one gets through grief cleanly. There are very few people who would approach such pain rationally.
Poetry therapy has often used to help people cope with grief and other emotional problems. I did a quick course in Poetry Therapy a few years back, which was led by Geri Chavis and it was inspiring to meet her and to learn some of her techniques.
Poetry therapy is something I’d like to do as a career, although at this stage in my life, I don’t think I could go back and retrain again. I have always been interested in the power of words and the creative arts to affect people.
If you are interested in poetry therapy you can check out the website: http://www.poetrytherapy.org