Five stages, almost rolled into one…

Dr. Kubler-Ross found that in general, folks who experience grief go through five different stages: 1. denial/isolation, 2. anger, 3. bargaining, 4. depression, and 5. acceptance. There is no time limit on how long each stage lasts and she goes on to say that some may be in your head for a few minutes while others may come around again–a cycle of stages, as it were.

I studied all that in college but wanted to reflect on how the death of my friend has affected me. I have the feeling that I have managed to roll the first four stages into one…for the last two days I’ve pretty much stayed to myself, immersed in music, which is about the only thing that makes me feel any bit better (if one can truly feel better about such things), so the isolation is there. The denial is mixed in as well, since it is so hard for me to imagine Don not being on this plane of existence right now. Anger is there, since I have to ask God if there was anything I could have done–as I mentioned, could I have searched for him and tried to reach out more earnestly (I do of course know that it is tough finding people these days if they are not FaceBooking, Twittering, or some other nonsense regularly, with real photos along with past and present contact information…). There is no question that depression is there–I spent almost all of yesterday’s church service crying and am still trying to wrap my psyche around it.

I keep thinking about Brockmeier’s book “The Brief History of the Dead”.  Here is a bit of the review from Publisher’s Weekly:

Meanwhile, the planet’s dead populate “the city,” located on a surreal Earth-like alternate plane, but their afterlives depend on the memories of the living, such as Laura, back on home turf. Forced to cross the frozen tundra, Laura free-associates to keep herself alert; her random memories work to sustain a plethora of people in the city, including her best friend from childhood, a blind man she’d met in the street, her former journalism professor and her parents. Brockmeier (The Truth About Celia) follows all of them with sympathy, from their initial, bewildered arrival in the city to their attempts to construct new lives. He meditates throughout on memory’s power and resilience, and gives vivid shape to the city, a place where a giraffe’s spots might detach and hover about a street conversation among denizens. He simultaneously keeps the stakes of Laura’s struggle high: as she fights for survival, her parents find a second chance for love—but only if Laura can keep them afloat.

It is a must-read for all heady cave dwellers. Or those who love thriller movies–I mean the real ones, from the 50s and 60s, the psychological thrillers that made you think about whether there just might be something out there (or even worse, it might be in the closet, right now, breathing). Even if you just go buy it for the cover, which shows a coat on a hanger being held open by a pair of hands, do it–you will read it eventually. No head, no body, just an empty coat on a hanger with hands…Anyway, if Brockmeier’s altnernate universe exists in any of the various space/time continua, Don is there. I know this because I couldn’t possibly forget him, and as long as video exists he will be there–alive and wonderful on YouTube. Yep, I think I like Brockmeier’s worlds. Now if I could just get rid of that pesky ball of stages and get to acceptance…


(Photo courtesy of Iron Leg)

Monday, April 27th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller

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