Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   May 14

Dealing with it

There are Five Stages of Grief. 

  1. Denial and isolation.
  2. Anger.
  3. Bargaining.
  4. Depression.
  5. Acceptance.

In the last week I have paid a visit to all of these stages.  More than once.  Stage Four and I currently have a closer relationship than I’d like.  I’ve been hanging out there a lot; ceaselessly loitering, actually.   At first I tried keeping to a routine, so I got out of bed at my regular time and stayed busy.  By Wednesday though, I couldn’t seem to talk myself out of bed.  With nowhere to go and my husband at work, it was just me and the dogs.  They were great lounging buddies.  They slept close by as I buried myself under the covers.  I never realized how painfully slow time passes when your mind and body won’t cooperate with each other.  Evidently, sleeping the day away is only a saying because I actually tried doing that and it doesn’t work.  My mind kept looping back to reality and leave me wishing the days away instead.

For the last 72 hours or so I’ve added a couple of Stages to the above list: Fear and Uncertainty.  As I cope with the loss of Patty in my life I now have to come to terms with the fact that I am unemployed, and will continue to be unemployable for the next couple of months.  For a woman who totally digs her comfort zone, all of these changes bring on a fear that I can’t begin to describe. 

Life will move along whether I’m on board or not.  At least I have enough sense to realize that I can’t continue down this path.  I’m having major surgery in less than a month and it’s extremely important that I’m physically and emotionally prepared for it.  I firmly believe that attitude can aid or hinder recovery and that our bodies respond to the way we are feeling, so, I have put a plan in motion.  Not a big one, but a plan nonetheless.  One accomplishment before I go to bed every day this week.  It doesn’t matter how big or small; I just need to be deliberate in choosing a task that will distract my mind and take away some of these feelings of uselessness.  Getting dressed doesn’t count (she repeats to herself).

Because I need some accountability, this little series of assigned jobs is pretty much what you can expect to read about over the next few days. 

Today’s task was sitting down at the computer and writing this post.  A huge accomplishment, believe me.  Trying to find something of value to write about has not been a strength of mine lately. 

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms out there.  See you back here tomorrow – task number one (whatever that may be), completed.



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  1. Kyra says:

    Wait, I was supposed to get dressed today? Man, I’m so far behind the curve!


  2. If you’re like me, you might have often wished you had a day (or week or month) without a schedule or deadlines or expectations….only to find out that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. We humans need purpose and many of us (that’d be me and people like me) need structured, or semi-structured, purpose.

    Give yourself time, Ellen, and you’ll find your new way.

  3. Roxie says:

    Echoing Cammy – you will find your new way. Thinking of you.

  4. Tim says:

    I think finding little things to do is a good way to get back on track. I’m also doing something similar at the moment . Fingers crossed for us both!

  5. Caron says:

    We are currently “in limbo” because of a job situation. I’ve probably spent a few years in this same situation wondering if the next job would come in the nick of time so that we can continue to pay rent and eat. It’s a little unnerving to say the least. It’s also wasted energy sitting and worrying about it but I can’t seem to help it.

    Thank you for this post. It kind of woke me up to the fact that I need to visit my 82 year old friend. She has been diagnosed with cancer and is refusing treatment. I am going to see her today. :)

  6. I think you’re handling it very well…not denying the stages, but also being aware of letting them overtake you. I have found that grief is not linear and that over time I have revisited stages I thought I had “gotten over.” I echo Cammy’s sentiments.

  7. Corinne says:

    Blech! How super hard but it’s OK for you to feel how you feel. I’ve been starting my morning with an anthem song to help me to get out of bed and start off on the right foot. I often feel like I’m in an awesome opening sequence of a movie. I love “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsBsBU3vn6M but this morning it was “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” by John Meyer, lol, not exactly a get up and go song. More of one that reflected my mood and the fog out my window. Hang in there!!!

  8. vickie says:

    very good job and smart to use your blog as a tool of sorts as you work thru this process. Was very glad to see ” I’m having major surgery in less than a month and it’s extremely important that I’m physically and emotionally prepared for it. ” that you understand you need to help yourself now. Your food, water, sleep and exercise are really important as you go through this next month. Glad to see you are paying attention and moving forward, no matter what the pace. Exercise is the smartest thing you can do for yourself right now (be careful with your back). I was just having all these same conversations with my oldest (22, just graduated from undergrad). He has a summer/fall of change. I have a summer/fall of change as he moves to grad school, my middle moves to college and my youngest starts high school. I think every post I wrote last week, the weekend and today had to do with change and focus.

  9. Jan says:

    I’m still lifting you up in prayer. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard this past week has been on you. I love how honest you are (raw feelings). We’re all here for you in whatever way you need us. Hugs to you.

  10. Sharon says:

    You told us more about Patty in the post about her death than you’d ever told us before. I picture a delightful lady who loves you as much as you love her. Notice that was NOT in past tense. Yes, physically she is gone from your sight, but if she were here, what would she tell you to do? How would she want you to spend your days? What was her advice regarding your upcoming surgery? Don’t try to put her away in the corners of your life as part of your past. Cherish the things she taught you and take the advice she’d offer now. Somehow, I don’t think it would involve days of not getting dressed and staying in bed.

    Easy to do?? Of course not! Those five stages will come and go for a long time, but you’ve got a handle on exactly the way to deal. Make a plan, make yourself follow the plan, imagine Patty smiling.

    During the many years I taught people how to deal with losing a job, I always told them to do the next right thing, no matter how simple or how silly it seemed. When nothing made sense, just do the next RIGHT thing!!

  11. debby says:

    Dear Ellen, I admire you so much for working on this, and giving yourself gentle and realistic goals to work on. And I am thinking that actual surgery and the post-op recovery period might be a blessing in disguise, as it will give you a ‘chore’ to work on, and also will provide an enforced rest period where you won’t want to do anything, and you will be justified in doing just that. Thank you again for sharing. It was something I very much needed to read today.

  12. Hanlie says:

    Well done for recognizing that you need to achieve something every day, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant that something is. You’ll get through this, and the surgery and the recovery. And by then you’ll be ready for a new challenge.

  13. DebraSY says:

    For what it is worth, in the hospice I worked for, we learn that the stages you list above are the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stages of death — as in when you are diagnosed, and what you may experience (not necessarily in order) before you die. Grief is similar, but different. I don’t know the scholar who created our grief phases, but they are one helpful way to frame the experience. Know that you may revisit phases — it’s not a “to do” list that you check off and “poof” life is normal (though some impatient or ignoranat people may want you to). They also often take longer than what our bosses or spouses or whoever may think they should. Here they are:

    1. Shock and numbness. This may feel like disbelief at the death. You may “forget” Patty is dead, then suddenly be struck by it.

    2. Yearning and searching. You may feel separation anxiety. You may want to bring Patty back from the dead or even deny that she’s dead, though you know it’s not logical.

    3. Disorganization and despair. It can be hard to focus/concentrate. Depression (situational) is normal too. (This phase is what you seem to be describing.)

    4. Reorganization. Ultimately, you will have a new relationship with Patty, based on your memories and such. You will separate from her some, place her in an appropriate corner of your mind/heart, and your life will pull together. Maybe you’ll sometimes quietly “talk” to her or pray to her. Or not.

    In all these phases, you may experience mental, physical, social and emotional reactions. Mental/emotional reactions may include guilt, anger, anxiety, sadness, despair. Physical reactions can include sleep disturbance, appetite issues, lowered immunity, etc. Social reactions may happen with friends or at work. You may be impatient or clingy or behave in some other atypical and discombobulating way. It may not be pleasant, but it’s all normal.

    You are doing so many things right. You are riding the emotions, not fighting them. You are making decisions — small is fine. You are talking about your feelings and your relationship. Don’t worry about repeating yourself, by the way, at least not at this point. Retell your Patty stories as much as you wish. You are far from getting stuck. Some cultures and traditions allow that grief is a one- or two-year journey. And even after that you may have a wave of remembrance that pulls you back. We’re too quick here in the West.

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