I’ve only read two books about “death.” And one of them was really more about Heaven, not really so much death because the author totally lived to tell his tale of Heaven. Ok, so I’ve read only one. One book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She’s totally famous because of those 5 Stages of Grief model. I read the book about a year ago. And I’m a huge proponent of re-reading so maybe I need to dig it out and revisit. And here’s why…
February has been hard. Like, rough and blue. Lots of sleeping. Zero chutzpah. And really crazy dreams. I’ve always been a dreamer – not just awake dreaming. I sometimes wonder if that’s the deepest way I process. Not talking or drawing or writing – dreaming. My dreams try to make sense of my world. My dreams are my intuition. My dreams hold space for special souls to visit.
One Saturday this month I slept until 11:00 am. (right? I’m not a teenager!) I’d gone to bed around 9:00 pm. I probably don’t need that much sleep. But my mom. She was in a dream. And I kept going back to sleep to try to see her again. To try to begin where we left off.
And so every night this month, I’ve been going to bed hoping to see my mom.
So I’m in one of those g-cycles. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. KR’s work has been sort of disputed because people take it to mean there’s a linear progression and you work through each stage, moving from one to the next when you’re ready or have dealt with it. She really meant that these are common feelings that one experiences – in any order. Maybe skipping some. Maybe dwelling on some. And maybe they happen multiple times and all at once.
Of course, everyone’s g-cycle is different. I think I’m in Depression. Not like super bad I need to see someone I need help I am in a very dark place depression. I’m at a sad spot in my g-cycle. I lived for a long time in Anger. I am very good at faking Acceptance. Maybe I’ve come out of Denial and just am sad. Part of sad is Acceptance.
And what’s really nuts is my brother seems to be experiencing the same g-cycle. He’s also sleeping a bunch. Crazy dreams. Missing mom – a lot. Every morning we text each other the dreams we had the night before. I had a pretty big deal one the other day – like maybe a game-changing, shifting type dream.
My mom wasn’t there.
So this is what’s so interesting to me… For months now I’ve had dreams where my mom is there, AND my dad is too, but with M. (my dad is remarried, we know the woman and her family quite well, I’m “cool” with the whole thing because she’s like totally the least worst thing ever – the situation just sucks and is what it is and I remember when I realized I had a future with someone else, that I wasn’t going to be alone anymore and how amazing and relieving and joyous that felt and if Dad and M were feeling that at 65, wow, blessing)
Mom would be there. So were Dad and M. Almost like they were on different planes of existence. Mom wasn’t bothered by it. Dad and M didn’t seem to notice. So – was I allowing my mom to be a part of this new normal? Was I breaking in the idea of Dad and M? Was my mind getting used to it?
One of the best pieces of advice I got on how to interpret dreams was this :: how did you FEEL when it was happening? Apparently, this is way more important than the ticky tacky details of dreams. Not always of course… But, if you’re dreaming let’s say of an old flame even though you’re happily married to a new flame, it’s NOT because you want to cheat on your new flame. It’s more about the feelings, the emotions, processing – rather than the face that your mind decided to slap on the body of the character.
How did I feel in these dreams? Sometimes just really annoyed. Or awkward. Never mad. Never sad. Sometimes like there was the potential of trouble… But mainly, just sort of put out by the whole thing. I take that to mean I just don’t have the capacity or desire to get emotionally involved with my dad’s love life. And the fact that they were operating as if in separate dimensions makes me think the I see the relationships as completely separate. I have compartmentalized them or they are compartmentalized. The memory of my mom, the significance of her isn’t diminished in any way by the presence of M.
But then, she wasn’t there… Did I process the Dad and M thing enough that my mom felt she could leave me now? Did I lose her again? I didn’t dream about my mom / of my mom for almost 9 months after her death. And now, she’s gone again… I had her back for just a little bit…
I’ve had to do work with NOT dreaming about certain people. That was pretty successful (but I should really revisit that work because this person has been popping up quite a bit lately and it’s really exhausting). I’ve not had much success inspiring a dream about a certain person. So, when I turn off my alarm in hopes that I’ll see her or when I put the pillow over my head wishing to be with her in the dream-state, I don’t have much luck. And then I feel like shit because I’ve overslept. I’ve been lazy. I took a nap to try to see her but all it got me was behind on customer care calls. And, like, shouldn’t this be better by now?
My gut tells me I will be dealing with this on some level, in some way, for the rest of my life. Later on in KR’s work, she expanded her model to include any form of personal loss. Last year, when I was in the depths of despair (thank you Anne Shirley), I was allowing myself, for maybe the very first time, to admit greif. I’d lost a lot. And had been stuck between Denial and Anger for a long long time.
Now I’m cycling through grief.