The Seven Stages of Grief

by James Howell 2 years ago in grief

How I Dealt With the Death of My Father

The Seven Stages of Grief

The Seven Stages of Grief

When my father passed away in 2015, it was a rough time in general. He had cancer in his lungs, esophagus and a tumor pressing on his brain, impairing his speech. It was hard because neither my brothers nor I had ever dealt with a death in the immediate family like this before. Thankfully, he already planned everything out ahead of time. I often wonder if I grieved in the appropriate manner. I’m still not sure if I did, or I just did it my own way. I was told by many people that it would eventually hit me, and hit me hard. Maybe it did subconsciously, because I never felt like it did. I decided to look into the seven stages of grief and give my outlook on them from my experiences.

Shock and Denial

I do know I did experience this somewhat, from the time he entered the hospital and hospice, I was visiting him until the day we laid him to rest. They give you pamphlets, telling you what to expect when someone passes on. While it was educational, sometimes it just confused you. For example, they say that people who are soon passing on will begin to talk and see deceased family members. My father did this, but I didn’t know whether it was the morphine or his time was drawing near.

I experienced a little bit of denial at his funeral, after we laid him to rest. I saw some of his friends that I hadn’t seen since I was child, and cheerfully (or the best I could) greeted them and reminisced with them. My first instinct was to call my dad and tell him that I had talked to them before I realized that was no longer possible.

Pain and Guilt

Obviously I experienced pain during the time of the loss of my father, we all do as anyone would. It wasn’t an easy transition, knowing that I would never see him again. The guilt side was the hardest part for me. I felt like I took our phone calls for granted. I felt guilty for not seeing him at Christmas because the weather was bad. I’m sure he understood this, but I still felt guilty.

He always downplayed his sickness, and I am sure I was in some denial of it as well. I wish I had thought to check on him and visit him more. I still feel guilty due to the fact that he went to work every day like that, until the doctors put him out of work, and I act like a big baby when I have a cold. I’m feel guilty about the way things ended when I moved out, although I am glad we were able to get past it. I’m glad I got to see him for his last birthday, I just wish I realized how serious things were then, instead of waiting until he was in a hospital bed. I had no idea he was even under hospice care until then. No one bothered to tell me.

Anger and Bargaining

I did have some anger over not being told how grave his condition was until it was too late. As I said earlier, he always downplayed it and I had some denial about the seriousness of it. Living an hour and a half away did make it difficult to see him. His wife would never let me know anything. If I didn’t hear it from my brothers, I had no idea what was going on. I know he didn’t want me to worry, I just wish he hadn’t downplayed it so much when we talked. Thankfully, I never really showed it, and it was time in which I and my brothers grew closer.

Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness

I already have the depression, so this loss didn’t help that at all. I still have the reflection part, from dreams about him, to wishing my son could have met his grandfather and how proud he would have been of him. I remember sitting out by the fire pit, drinking beer. (Not the best way to cope with a loss mind you.) That was the first time I really reflected and it, combined with alcohol, made the depression that much worse. I never really experienced the loneliness, I guess because we lived so far apart, plus I’m and introvert and somewhat anti-social anyways.

The Upward Turn

I feel like I have reached this stage, especially after my son was born. It doesn’t mean that I have forgotten my father, but that I am on the path to healing, while most people's depression would start lifting by this stage, my remains due to being manic-depressive.

Reconstruction and Working Through

This doesn’t necessarily apply in my situation, seeing how I’ve been pretty independent since I was 16. Well, other than the phone calls fussing about how hard times were for each of us. That doesn’t mean it won’t apply to you. It basically means you that realize you no longer have the person in question to rely on.

Acceptance and Hope

This is where we learn to accept and deal with reality of the loss. I believe this is where my dreams come into play, as it is my brain trying to work through this final step. I still miss him and it still hurts, but not like the original pain I felt of watching him pass on and helping carry his coffin. I like to think he would be proud of me as a dad and his grandson, and I do look forward to times to come, whether it’s taking my son fishing or the zoo or the ball game.

After writing this, I feel like maybe I did follow these steps in my own unique way. It may be different for you, as we all grieve in our own way, yet we all grieve during times of loss such as this. So maybe I didn’t do so bad after all.

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James Howell

Father, activist, man in black...

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