Guest Column: Grief-Unfinished Business

by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Assistant Editor

I feel like I was left behind…

 When life changed…the day you died. You left me, to pick up the pieces, to clean up this mess that was left behind.

The finality concept of grief was supposed to happen. But there was no instruction manual on how I was supposed to do this. You left me, you left our loved ones and like a glass that shatters on the floor when dropped, I felt broken.

I had some support, others tried to console this empty place in my existence. They encouraged me to allow myself some time, with love and well-meaning thoughts to help me adjust. They are incredibly strong individuals. I tried to do the right things, and I know that others have stories more horrific than my own. Time went by, and I continued working on my own grief, or so I thought.

Then one day, I was reading an article about survivors, about those that are left behind like me, and I began to blame others. I became angry, and I couldn’t move. I remember sitting back in my chair, like I was having some kind of identity crisis at that moment.

I thought I was supposed to land into the next stage of grief. I thought I was trying, that I was processing, I was working on it.

But did it mean that I was trying? That I was starting to process? That I was working at it? That survivor path was supposed to be there for me to follow. But this path made me feel so alone. It didn’t matter to me that family and friends had reached out to me, that loved me, because I couldn’t love myself. I hurt, and I still hurt. I haven’t the slightest fucking idea of how I am supposed to do this. “The five general stages of grief, as described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross:

Denial: This can’t be happening.

Anger: Why did this happen? Who is to blame?

Bargaining: Make this not happen and I will…

Depression: I can’t bear this; I’m too sad to do anything.

Acceptance: I acknowledge that this has happened, and I cannot change it.

While the five stages of grief may appear to be steps in a process, they are not. Even Kübler-Ross said that the stages are not meant to neatly package up grief — there is no typical loss and no typical grief.

Grieving is as individual as we are and is not a linear process. You left me to deal, to work, to survive, as I watched you just slip away until “poof”, you were “no more”. You left me to look for things, read your journals, unscramble your passwords, to go about, day by day and say to you, wherever it is you may be, that we have unfinished business. How do I search for a new meaning of life while I unravel this latest mistake? I am still here, holding on without representation. 

Because you are gone, and I am so very sad, and we still have unfinished business……….