“You can decorate absence however you want- but you are still going feel what’s missing.” – Siobhan Vivian, Same Difference
Five stages of grief is a hypothesis introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. These stages have evolved, interpreted and misinterpreted over the years, but they were never meant to be an absolute generalisation that neatly organises our scattered emotions. Based on Kübler-Ross’ professional and personal observations, the five stages represent what people normally experience. Obviously there is no precise response or precise loss that can have one definition. Grief is individualistic and personal, varying in certain degrees, just like life itself. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance in no specific sequence, make the framework of learning to cope with grief and loss.
This Christmas I realised how final acceptance has not prevented me from feeling the absence of someone who was in my life. Thereby indicating I’m not healed. Most people believe that once you come to terms with the permanent reality of a loss you will move on. But learning to live with it, never means you have moved on to forget or that you are OK. The acceptance in the Kübler-Ross model describes it as the new norm with which we must live by. Our loved ones are missing from our lives therefore we need to re-adjust. It is about finding more good days than bad days.
They say if you love someone truly, it never comes to an end just because they leave you or because they die. I testify this to be true. Which also means, grief of such a loss has no end. And an absence of such a person can never be filled.
The spirit of Christmas has a strange quality about it. It makes you homesick urging you to be with family and the ones we love. And when you can’t, it simply becomes purposeless. You can put up your Christmas tree, switch on the lights and set the table but deep inside of you, there’s that emptiness when you are missing someone who ought to be there. It’s not like I don’t know what is missing or who is missing. It is the unequivocal knowing of who is absent from my life that is agonizing me.
Knowing someone isn’t coming back doesn’t stop you from thinking about that person or wishing they were there. This is where the logic falls apart. You understand the circumstances and accept the reality for what it is, which is the right thing to do. But within some undetectable part of you, you haven’t stopped wanting.
I don’t know how to stop the wanting or the loving but all I know is that no matter how hard we dry to dress-up the absence of who we love, it shows, it is felt and it never ceases to be. We may watch our wounds heal but the scars are a reminder of why we had those wounds in the first place.
There was a time when all I wanted for Christmas was the presence of one person. That was my gift, my celebration and meaning. It sort of comes back and catches up with me this time of the year. I guess…acceptance at times, is irrelevant to our hearts and seasons.
“You can love someone so much…But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”
― John Green