There are several stages to grief and death/dying and I think I’ve done just about all of them- many times. There wasn’t much bargaining to be done because with Shayna’s sudden death there wasn’t much time. Denial has been a tricky one for me to go through and to recognize.
The first thing when a death is sudden, shocking and a healthy young person is simply coming to grips it really happened. Shayna was active socially and a typical teenager who spent a lot of time in her room on her iPhone watching Netflix. So, for the first few weeks when she wasn’t in the room, or around it was easy for my brain to think she was just out with friends or up in her room. Every single morning I would wake up and for a while think the world was OK. I’d have to replay the specifics of her death, planning her celebration of life, the relatives being here, etc. to remember what happened. My brain was just not equipped to handle such a radical sudden change. Ty and I would look around at the flowers in the room and all the people and forget why they were here. We’d have to constantly remind ourselves. This feeling of unreality of being disconnected, even numbness is common in the early stages. You’re not going crazy, it’s just your brain trying to adjust to a new reality, a reality you don’t want to accept.
I think I’m pretty much past that stage now. I no longer have to replay the whole thing to realize it’s real. I do have to remind myself quite often, but it’s easier to do. What I’m now dealing with may be a more subtle form of denial, I’m not sure. I need to cling to hope. I am reading everything I can find on the after life. I am looking for signs she is still here. I was listening to an audio tape on grief yesterday and the author categorized talking to the person who is departed, talking to their picture, calling their name as part of denial. Interestingly enough this same author is a firm believer that we survive the demise of the body and that our loved ones are still here, so it was confusing to me when she said that.
I am resigned to the fact that my physical body will never feel Shayna’s physical body again. I have accepted the fact I will not hear her voice or be able to watch her relish something sweet. She won’t be here to criticize my dinners. But, I have not given up on the fact that she is still here in a very real way. I am continuing to look for signs of her presence. I will continue to talk to her, to tell her I love her. I will continue to hold out hope that this is not the end and that this will all make sense some day. Is that denial? I don’t think so. I spoke with the counselor about it on Monday and she seemed to agree with me that I’m facing this in the best way I can. I can’t give up all hope. I still believe some pretty strange stuff, at least according to some people, but the great thing is when I shared one of my stories about sensing Shayna still here, she shared with me one even more bizarre and unbelievable after her husband had passed. That was really helpful.
So, if holding out hope means I’m in denial, well then I guess I’ll just be in denial. I can’t give up on hope.