Friday, 19 October 2018

"DON'T TELL ME HOW TO GRIEVE" | WHY THE 'FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF' DON'T MEAN A THING


IN MEMORY OF DOLLY I'VE SET UP A JUSTGIVING PAGE TO RAISE MONEY FOR HER VETS BILLS. IF YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE ANYTHING AT ALL IT WOULD BE HUGELY AMAZING!
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dollywilson


So once upon a time, there was this fantastically clever lady called Elisabeth Kugler Ross who came up with a theory. She thought that there are five stages of grief that a person can experience.

As you’ll know – if you read one of my most recent posts – I recently lost my four-year-old cat (Dolly). Some of you might read this and think “oh my God it’s just a cat. She’s grieving over a cat?!” but I’d like you to continue reading and see if you feel the same by the end.


In my grief of losing Dolly, I’ve learnt that you don’t have to go through the stages in order and that actually, you can experience more than one stage at the same time. And I want to raise awareness of this fact so that no one having this same experience don’t feel alone in this or that they’re abnormal and not grieving ‘properly.’ Because at this difficult time, those thoughts and feelings can have a particularly dangerous and unsafe impact, especially on those already vulnerable to mental health illness.

Denial

Considering it is supposedly the first stage, I am yet to experience this. And I’m not sure that I ever will because the situation is so completely real. This is probably to do with the fact that it’s hurtful. Painful. Unbearable, sometimes. And you can’t deny when you’re in pain. You can try to block it out. You can try and self-medicate to get rid of it. But you can’t deny it.


Anger

This definitely one stage I’ve experienced! I’m ashamed to say it but I’ve been angry at the Vets – thinking they could’ve done more for Dolly. That they should have done more. But really, I know they tried their absolute hardest and I’ll be forever grateful for their incredible support and efforts. They were 100% invested in Dolly’s case – to the point where the Vet and a Nurse were crying at the news that she was being put to sleep. My other experience of anger has been towards all cat owners! I’ve had a friend moan about her cat and I just wanted to shout at her to be more grateful because at least she has one. I thought that I needed to be surrounded by cats, so I went to see my neighbor (who has two cats) and became angry/jealous that she had two and I had none. And even just walking along the street and I see cats in people’s windows or sat in the gardens and I just think ‘how come they get to be alive and Dolly doesn’t?!’ And the stupidest thing? I’m addicted to the Sims Freeplay and created a character based on myself who has a cat and a rabbit, and her cat is still alive. I’m angry at my Sims cat! I feel like that is just evidence as to just how powerful grief is.

Bargaining

Yet another experience that I haven’t gone through. Yet. I wondered if that made me a bad person because I thought that anyone else would be trying to bargain with some higher being; offering up their own life in return for the person who has passed. Sometimes people will bargain that they’d do anything to have just one more minute with the person. I think that not having the inclination to do this doesn’t mean that I’m selfish or that I loved Dolly any less. In fact, it means the opposite; because the reason I’m not bargaining in this way because she wouldn’t want me to. She wouldn’t want me to sacrifice anything. And she definitely wouldn’t want me to sacrifice myself.

Depression

You’d assume that with me already having a mental health diagnosis (of Borderline Personality Disorder) I’d be more vulnerable and therefore more likely to experience this stage, but I don’t think that’s been the case. Of course, I’ve had sadness and I’ve cried until I was genuinely worried that I would dehydrate myself but I’m reluctant to use the word Depression. I think it’s a term that is overused in the most different situations. If someone has a bad day at work; it’s “I’m so Depressed today” or even if you’re just feeling glum or unmotivated one day. Something I do want to say about that though, is that it links back to the beginning of this post in that perhaps it’s worth considering that maybe someone uses the word ‘Depression’ because they’re feeling the very worst they ever have. Personally, (and this might come as a surprise to some of you) I’ve never used that word to describe my own mood. I think that it’s perhaps because I’d use the word ‘Suicidal’ and some pay may that to be Suicidal you have to be Depressed. But not necessarily. I often feel suicidal purely because my auditory hallucinations are loud so that doesn’t mean my mood is low. So feeling like I have never experienced Depression means that I can only go off the diagnostic criteria for it and to me, I don’t meet that.

Acceptance

I genuinely believe this was actually the first stage I experienced with losing Dolly. I think that this was precipitated by the fact that I’d had a bad feeling about the entire thing since the very first day she got poorly (Monday October 8th 2018). I can’t describe it… Actually! Maybe I can. It’s like when I went to pick her up on Monday (October 15th 2018) I was sat in the waiting room with my support worker and I heard a cat meow. I told my support worker that was Dolly and she said ‘there’s probably lots of cats in here!’ Next thing we knew, the a door opened and a Nurse called me in to the room the meow had come from. I guess I’m hoping that from that example, you can see just how… in tune? I am, with Dolly. And that me having a bad feeling actually held more meaning than you might assume. Then there was the fact that her kidney function in her blood results got worse and on the 15th I was told that they were sending her home to be in the most comfortable environment but not to expect her to live beyond a week. So I guess I had some warning but then the fact she was put to sleep the next day (Tuesday October 16th 2018) was obviously surprising for me and for the Vets. My Mum kept saying things that made me wonder if she was in denial about the situation and what the probable outcome (I don’t mean to sound cold or scientific in that) was going to be. In fact, I remember saying to her “I can’t deal with you having denial right now!” And I think that’s because I’d come to accept the fact Dolly would be leaving me. When the Vet saw her on the 16th I remember saying to him “just tell me. Do we need to put her to sleep?” And it wasn’t like I wanted to make such a decision, it was that I’d accepted that I was going to have to. And it’s like I said in my previous post; I feel as though I’m meant to say that accepting this was hard but it wasn’t. And the reason it wasn’t was because I knew it was the right thing to do. Saying goodbye was painful. But accepting she had gone is easily done when her radiator bed is no longer on the radiator, her food bowls aren’t in the kitchen, her litter tray isn’t stinking up the entire house, and her toys aren’t scattered everywhere. I think there’s a lot of assumptions made with ‘acceptance’ in that people assume accepting loss means that that’s it. It’s no longer in your head. In your mind. In your heart. But it is. If anything, it’s the opposite because accepting the loss of Dolly has left me utterly heartbroken. I have found comfort in telling people what has happened because it does make it more real and unavoidable – the only thing left to do is accept she has gone. 

For support after the loss of a pet, the Blue Cross have a fantastic service: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss

IN MEMORY OF DOLLY I'VE SET UP A JUSTGIVING PAGE TO RAISE MONEY FOR HER VETS BILLS. IF YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE ANYTHING AT ALL IT WOULD BE HUGELY AMAZING!
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dollywilson