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Five Stages of Grief

Inspired by "The Angel of Grief" sculpture

By Morgan Rhianna BlandPublished 10 months ago Updated 9 months ago 7 min read
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The Angel of Grief by William Wetmore Story

I. Denial

When her father died, she denied. She denied him her tears and affection because she wanted to appear strong. She wanted to prove that she would be alright without him, that she wouldn’t become the fragile, weepy stereotype of a grieving daughter - because she knew how much he hated stereotypes! Instead of kind words, she would pick fights with him. She thought she was doing the right thing. If he was angry at her, at least he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself. But he didn’t understand. He died thinking she no longer loved him.

She denied him his final days with her to pursue her dream. In a cruel twist of fate, things didn’t go according to plan, and her dream never came to fruition. She traded the acceptance of the man who was always on her side for a chance to earn the acceptance of one who didn’t know she existed, and it was all for nothing!

She denied her own emotions. The last time she saw her father, she gave him two things: gifts he wouldn’t survive long enough to use and her word. She promised she would live life to the fullest and not allow herself and her mother to go hungry or homeless. There she was barely an adult herself, a weak sickly thing unable to hold a real job, and suddenly she was tasked with providing for herself and her mother. A mother who was too broken to care for herself. Crying and panicking wouldn’t help her keep her promise, so she squashed her emotions like cockroaches until all signs of vulnerability died in her.

II. Anger

When her mother died, she was furious. She was furious that her best efforts to keep her promise to her father had been in vain. For years, she did all she could to keep her mother comfortable and happy. She kept her mother supplied with food, clothing, and a few surprise trinkets here and there. Every time, she hoped her gifts would make her mother smile again, but they never did. Her mother wanted neither comfort nor happiness.

She was furious that her mother let herself be broken. The poor woman had expected a miracle. She thought her husband would recover from his illness and return to her. When that didn’t happen, she just stopped caring. She stopped caring for humanity and for herself. She wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t shower, wouldn’t leave the house or lift a finger to help her daughter with the housework. All she did was stay in bed and complain about her life and everyone in it. Although part of her still cared for her daughter, it wasn’t enough to make her want to bounce back. In the end, she cared for her misery more.

She was furious that her mother chose to die with her husband instead of live with her daughter. It didn’t have to be this way. If her mother had been caring for herself as she should, the doctors would’ve caught her illness in time to heal it. But she didn’t want time. Why? Wasn’t she enough to make her mother want to live?

III. Bargaining

When her grandfather died, she was disappointed. No, not in the old man; she was disappointed in herself. She had dashed his hopes for her in every way imaginable. All of his other grandchildren had college degrees, traditional jobs, spouses, and children. She had none. Some of those things were impossible due to her illness. Others were things she didn’t even want, but that didn’t stop her from wondering. Would her grandfather have thought better of her if she had them?

She was disappointed in her greatest failure. Her self worth was defined by the things she acquired, but those acquisitions differed drastically from the others. Since she was unable to amass the hallmarks of adulthood, she spent her time amassing objects instead. Shiny baubles so rare that no one else in her town, let alone in her family, would have them. She could never shine as the prettiest, kindest, or smartest, so she let her collection shine for her. Along with her collection, she amassed debts that she couldn’t pay on her own. Turning to her grandfather for help was the last straw. He finally lost faith in her, and the saddest part was he wasn’t wrong. If only she hadn’t done that… If only she could turn back time and stop herself, maybe he would still believe in her.

She was disappointed that she ran out of time to make things right. She never made the same mistake twice and paid back the money as much as she could, but it wasn’t enough. She still didn’t progress far enough or fast enough to meet the world’s expectations for a woman her age while he was alive. If only he’d lived longer… If only she’d worked harder, maybe she could’ve done something great enough to earn back his approval.

IV. Depression

When her grandmother died, she was devastated. She was devastated to lose the last person she loved who had loved her in return. When the last ray of light left the old woman’s eyes, so went the last ray of light left in her life. She’d survived all the losses in her life up to that point because she knew that whatever happened, she still had someone on her side. Now that someone was gone, leaving her all alone in the world like a pebble cast into the sea. A sea of despair inundating her, dragging her down, drowning her.

She was devastated that she hadn’t been a better granddaughter. Although the good times they shared outnumbered the bad by a million to one, those memories were overshadowed by sadder ones. All she could recall were the times in her youth when she’d been ungrateful or unkind to her grandmother, and how she would give her life for the chance to take it all back. She tried to return the favor as best as she could. She gave her grandmother gifts and companionship in her final years. She stayed by her side until the end and used her meager savings to buy a stone for her memorial. Those gestures were mere trifles compared to the sacrifices her grandmother had made for her, but it was all she could do.

She was devastated that her life was nothing but an endless road of loneliness and misery, from then until the gods decided she’d suffered enough and called her home… however long that would take. Day in, day out, through sun and wind and rain, she kept vigil over her grandmother’s resting place. She knelt over the stone, her face buried in her arms as she wept. The world mocked her tears, but she no longer cared. She could no longer sleep or eat. The only thing she could bring herself to swallow was wine because the burn of alcohol flowing down her throat distracted her from the burn of tears flowing down her cheeks. She knew her grandmother wouldn’t want her to hurt, yet that only made the tears cascade faster. Every so often, she would glance at the sky and beg the gods, “Please, turn me to stone like this monument so that I may no longer feel pain!”

V. Acceptance

When she got her wish, she was at peace. She was at peace knowing that her suffering had ended. After many years of sorrow, the gods finally acquiesced to her request and transformed her into a stone angel. There she remained for all eternity exactly as she had been in life, collapsed in grief over her grandmother’s stone. The story of the Angel of Grief spread far and wide, and people came from everywhere to pay their respects and leave a lily at her feet. All the while her spirit and those of her father, mother, grandfather, and grandmother watched from afar as the same people who once ridiculed her pain now saw beauty in it. In death she found the acceptance that had so long been denied her in life, and the Angel of Grief was content at last.

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About the Creator

Morgan Rhianna Bland

I'm an aroace brain AVM survivor from Tennessee. My illness left me unable to live a normal life with a normal job, so I write stories to earn money.

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