How to Grieve: What were those 5 stages again?

First, tell someone your father, mother, cat, friend has died and have them tell you how their mother, father, dog, neighbor died several years ago and how it made them feel. Find yourself comforting this person despite the fact that you are the one who suffered the loss. Tell them how sorry you are. Hang up the phone or continue shopping or walk away. Walk away.
Next, you are in yoga and doing downward dog when you remember how much you miss your father, friend, sister and suddenly your legs weaken and you are in child's pose wondering whether crawling out the door will upset people.
After yoga you buy a cookie. You walk home and your mouth is full of dust. You recall how the funeral director handed you your father's ashes and you sat in the car with him in the box and told him how much you loved him. Years earlier on your way to a reading for your new novel your father told you how proud he was of you. You hand your mother the box and she sits there with it on her lap. "Sixty-eight years" she says quietly. You go into action and suggest a movie, dinner, TV, a walk. She looks up at you and says, "He was my sweetie pie. He was everything." You sit down and shut up.
Next, you take your cat to the vet, the awful cat who loves your husband and the x-ray informs you this cat has swallowed a needle. It is a huge needle in a small cat. You agree not to operate and your husband is suddenly in tears. He rushes out the door and after you assure the vet you don't want to be there when Fatty dies, you follow your husband. A week later a plaster of paris imprint of Fatty's paw arrives with the date he was executed. "They must have already given him the shot," you say, handing the paw to your husband. "Otherwise, he would have scratched their eyes out." Your husband glares at you and you are sorry. His heart is broken and that is sad.
You open Facebook and there is a picture of an ex-boyfriend. He was your first boyfriend after you got sober and the first man you let touch you after your violent husband. He was kind and you were grateful to him for his understanding your crazy family and your bruises. He has died of a brain tumor. You don't know what to feel. You haven't seen him in years. You went to the MTV New Year's Eve Ball with him wearing your dyed Betsey Johnson wedding dress and that was your first date in sobriety. Someone threw beer on you. You are sorry.
Years earlier you were at work and your mother told you a woman from high school, a fabulous, wild woman had succumbed to AIDS and a fire. She was a junkie and you loved her. Once you were meant to be going to a party and she took you to Harlem when Harlem was Harlem and she scored smack while you sat in her car. You were scared and angry. She has died without marrying or having children or ever having an I Phone. She would have loved an I Phone. You are at work and you hang up the phone and follow your boss to a meeting where she takes credit for all your work. You remain silent. It doesn't matter.
Your sister has been hit by a car and after a week, she dies. You are very sick. You stop eating for a long time. You have panic attacks and you snort cocaine and you cry all night. Every night. You can't sleep and you are alone which is good because when you see your parents you need to act normal. You are not normal. There is a pain in your chest you think is cancer but a shrink tells you it is your broken heart and writes you a prescription for Nardil and Elavil. You look in the PDR and you see this combination causes death. You are glad. It doesn't but you sleep for 48 hours and when you wake up she is still dead. You marry a jerk. You divorce and get better.
Last year your son, the child who holds your life in his hand nearly kills himself and others. he has flipped his car 4 times and calls you from the hospital. He is on his way to jail but he is alive and unhurt. You, on the other hand, can't talk. You, on the other hand, are close to suicide. You see him briefly and then you move to Abu Dhabi where you have the worst job of your life awaiting you, some fabulous friends and months to recover from the possibility of losing this life that you made, this baby that you carried, this boy that you cherished, this teenager that you nagged. He tells you how sorry he is and you nod. He is still alive. You will survive. You do not have to grieve. This time.


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