The past few days have been a roller coaster of weather in Minnesota. Last week we set record temperatures in the high eighties, today it is 30 and snowing. Air conditioning? Furnace? Some days in Minnesota you need both. One in the morning and the other later in the afternoon. But as Minnesotans, we expect wildly fluctuating weather conditions – we often say “If you don’t like the weather now, wait five minutes.”
Grief was also wildly fluctuating, but I didn’t expect it.
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. “That was the correct order, wasn’t it?” I checked with my nurse brain as I tried to put my emotions into neat compartments. I learned about them as a nurse, never questioning their accuracy. I talked about them with patients, but never once considered how they would play out if I was the actor on the main stage.
It seemed as if time stood still, and I was suspended in space. When would the tidy grief I learned about in nursing school begin? I needed the kind of grief that started with one stage, proceeded along a linear path, and cleanly end with following the last stage.
I vowed to ask for help. “I am going to do whatever is necessary to work through the five stages of grief as quickly as possible,” I said to whoever would listen, mainly to convince myself that I would soon return to my former self and my former life. It did not yet seem ridiculous to me that I could order my emotions into tidy and linear boxes with a distinct beginning and end.
The Widow’s Guide to Becoming a Handyman, Chapters 7 and 11