Most people know about the five stages of grief.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  What most people don’t know is that this wasn’t modeled after the typical grief experience of someone who has just lost a loved one – it was born out of questionnaires given to people with terminal illness.  Even with chronic illness, this model fits very well.

Grieving the death of a friend or family member?  Not so much.  I’ve been around death since before I was old enough to tie my shoes.  My favorite person in the world died when I was 6.  We’ve been averaging one funeral a year for family members, plus extras for acquaintances and friends of the family since then.  That’s a lot of embalmed hands I’ve touched.

My stages of grief are as follows:

Alternating sadness/numbness

“Inappropriate” comments and laughter

Yep, I’m the asshole who cracks jokes at a funeral while attempting to lighten the mood.  Death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person and I don’t think celebrating a person’s life needs to be a somber event.  Sure, it’s sad.  Sure, I miss people who have passed.  But I no longer judge myself on the way I cope with death because it seems abnormal.  How do we know what’s abnormal when people don’t usually talk about their grief?  It makes others uncomfortable so the topic is avoided.

My good friend Jayson found his father had pulled an Elvis (died on the toilet) early this morning.  Jayson’s Dad was a nasty son of a bitch and also had several health problems so he knew it was only a matter of time.  The relationship he had with his Dad is very similar to the one I have with my own and was often a topic of conversation.

I’m terrible at consoling people who have just experienced loss.  I’m there and I listen, but I don’t have anything comforting to say.  Maybe that’s what people need, rather than platitudes.  I told him whatever he’s feeling is fine.  Anger, sadness, relief… it’s all valid.  To try not to judge what he’s feeling.

And then I told him the story of how I accidentally called an alpaca farm at 1:49am while doing a Google search for alpaca yarn.  I hope I didn’t give the proprietor a heart attack.  Why?  It came to mind, so out it went.

4 thoughts on “Grief

  1. I think you said the perfect things. My father died this past June and everyone said the same old platitudes. For me I was a jumble of emotions. Still am. And one of them is relief. No one would have told me that was okay. You’re a good friend.
    I usually just listen, and say that I know I can’t say that right thing but know I wish I could. Or something like that. Yeah, it’s kind of a platitude, but I mean it. I wish there was something I could do, but I know there isn’t, unlike most people who seem to think telling me he’s in a better place would make me feel better. Yeah, I kind of doubt that one anyway. I bet he’s pretty warm right now.

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  2. Your right! I dont do grief the conventional way either … and I’m coming to grips with the fact that my response to it isn’t wrong just different … I’m over grief … had enough to last a lifetime too … bring on the jokes i say.

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  3. I didn’t know that Elvis died on the toilet. Didn’t know about this either:

    I really don’t want to die on the toilet, but I’m not sure how to prevent that. Spend less time on the toilet? Meaning, eat less? Nah, that’s no fun. Seems to me that after I die, I won’t care how I’m found. Still, the eventuality of death makes me want to always be dressed, you know, so I won’t keel over while I’m naked. 🙂

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  4. My brain doesn’t handle thoughts on death well…it triggers my panic disorder for some strange reason, though consciously I don’t find it any bigger deal than any other part of the natural order of things. In general for myself I just stay distracted (to avoid the dumb ass panic and anxiety) with craft, music, netflix binges etc and put off the grieving as much as possible. Honestly from the outside I probably look like a heartless bitch by staying as removed as possible. When it comes to helping others I usually try to just be there and let em know I can be whatever they need (shoulder to cry on, someone to hysterically laugh with, someone to go go-carting with etc)…and I bake up a storm, cause food is love…. You did what you needed to, you were there for your friend and it sounds like you were exactly what he needed.

    Liked by 1 person

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