Thursday, August 23, 2012

kelly's stages of grief

I know its been a while. First we were out of town, then I was reorganizing the house, and then I was just avoiding you. There is both too much and too little to say about the last 4 weeks. Where do I begin?

Everyone knows the Kubler-Ross stages of grief:

1. denial
2. anger
3. bargaining
4. depression
5. acceptance

I know grief is not a linear thing. We have been grieving Liv's health for three plus years. I have learned a few things about grieving. Let me tell you my 4 stages of grieving her death over the past 4 weeks.

1. shock (which actually lasts through stages 2 and 3 and probably comes back again and again)
Shock is how you stand next to your child's casket during the visitation for two hours without losing your mind, how you decide you might get up in the morning-- like it may all be untrue, and how you seem literally surprised everytime you see their name next to a birthdate and a date of death. You did, in fact, go to the funeral and bury her, but its like going to your own wedding-- you remember almost none of it.

2. public crying.  Public crying is allowed to happen for two reasons: 1. you're beyond consolation, so you're going to cry all the time anyway 2. people let you cry in public because you just started doing it, and its still pretty with tears

3. private crying. This is the WORST stage. Private crying HAS to happen in private because its been a few weeks since the death and people are tired of you being sad. But mostly, it has to be done in private because its the "ugly crying". Your face contorts, there are no tears left, and you do this hiccuping/ gasping thing neither you nor other people appreciate. Yuck.

4. melancholy. I think this stage is partly due to, finally, the exit of adrenaline. The only way you can physically get through stages 1, 2, and 3 is adrenaline. Instead of exhibiting your grief by tears, which is exhausting, you just "feel sad" a lot and look tired. Seriously, I had to start wearing mascara again for the first time since January because I looked so horrible (and I wasn't really crying much anyway).

If you think I have dark humor you should read C.S. Lewis on grief.  He makes me look like Mother Goose.

Honestly, there has been a lot of crying, and just tiredness and sadness, a lot of avoiding you, both on the Internet and in person. There have also been some (and increasing) laughs about memories of Liv, and laughs at Gabby. When I need a gut check I read the blog I wrote about her last few days, or look over her memory book from the visitation/funeral (thanks jami), or watch a video our amazing photographer friends put together and we will be sharing some time (thanks parsons), or I just pack up in the car, drive 5 minutes down the road and sit on the ground next to where she is buried and we have a chat. Almost every time it results in ugly, private crying. But, at the end, I mostly feel resolved.

I think I thought the grieving part would be easier if I believed she was in heaven, that grieving just for me losing her (and not having to grieve her pain any more) would make the whole thing "tolerable". I tell you what, if you have to grieve for yourself AND the deceased, you might just whither away to nothing.

Most days now are fine. We are functioning. Brian is back at work. We are sleeping and eating fine. We are actually exercising for the first time in 3 years. We cry some. Some days we cry alot. We are so thankful for many things: your prayers and support, the many ways we have of remembering our time with Olivia, and the HUGE distraction that Gabs is--she is doing something new every day. If you want pictures of her recently you might check out Brian's instagram feed on "follow us". You were lucky to get words from me today!


  1. Kelly if you ever need someone to listen and care about your grief, please call me, whether it's tomorrow or twenty years from now. No one should expect you to ever fully get over this until you see her again in heaven.

  2. You're an amazing writer. I'm not sure if I could put into words what you just eloquently. Also, when you said that you were re-organizing your house I hope you weren't fixing what we (Jami and I) did to it. I'm sorry if we burdened you. We really wanted you guys to feel blessed when you came home. I'm sorry if you didn't. I'll allow you one slap in the face when you see me next. Of course, I will shield myself with Jami. Praying for you guys.

    1. lol. No, Audrey. We LOVED what you guys did! The medical supply company came to get stuff and I had to go through our boxes of stuff and parse everything out. Keep--donate--etc... I'm SO sorry it came off like that. We seriously do appreciate everything so much! You can come over-- I swear it looks the same! :)

  3. Well said....As someone who has been there, I can say it gets easier every day, every year...but it does not diminish the loss or the memory....Virtual hugs from one of your mom's old friend!

  4. I just want you to know that we will NEVER get tired of you needing to cry. If you ever need to call me and just cry, I'm always here. 417-385-3941 I mean that, 24/7. You should also know we're all still crying for Olivia too. So, it's only normal that you would be too. There's no 'right' way to grieve something like this... there's just your way and that way is okay regardless of the form it takes minute-by-minute. Love you bunches.

  5. I was just thinking about you guys tonight. As always, I truly admire your honesty. My heart still breaks for you guys.

    Hugs from Budapest,

  6. i love that you are continuing to write. it is so good for you and it's good for us. we all think about you and stalk you secretly because we don't want to overwhelm you with questions or whatever. anyway, i love your words and i sunk in my chair when i read you had to re-organize everything because audrey and i dominated your downstairs mostly inappropriately.
    audrey knows damn well that she would take the slap. i bruise like a peach.

    love you guys.

  7. Kelsey first read me your post when I was in the file room and together we grieved with you. As one of your friends said, we will never ever grow tired of you being sad. You and Brian fill my heart with admiration and it was so good to see you and finally be able to give you the hug that I couldn't give you weeks ago. It made my heart happy to hold Gabs, since I didn't get the opportunity to hold Livi one last time. I hope that when Gabs is 2 I can have her to hold and teach to, as I did Livi. Thank you for giving me that special opportunity. Peace, love, and hugs to you, Gayla