In December 2010, I lost my 28 year-old brother to a very aggressive cancer which took his energy, health, and ultimately his life in roughly six weeks – from the time he was diagnosed to the day he passed away. My immediate response was pretty typical – I went into survival mode taking of care of everyone but myself. In fact, when I got the first bereavement letter from hospice six month after my brother’s death, I thought, “thanks, but I’m already passed this point.” Only recently have I realized how long the process of bereavement really is, the extent to which this loss impacts my life, and just how much I did need all the support that was given.
There are five stages of grief that most experts appear to agree on – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We can experience them in any order and sometimes go back and forth between stages, culminating into something that feels very much like a roller coaster.
A few weeks ago I decided to finally track my progression through the bereavement process to better understand where I am and the decisions I’m making. I actually have a very real fear of choices being based solely on emotional motivations and needed to ensure there was some logic behind my past 10 months of decision making.
So where’s the Mormon tie-in? Bargaining.
I’ve been in this stage since day one and while I may have briefly ventured into other stages, I feel I have yet to move out of bargaining due to my faith in principles such as eternal families and temple ordinances. I don’t mean this in a negative way at all. I choose for faith to be a real and significant influence in my life and in this case, it’s helped me cope with a terrible loss and the moving on process.
But at some point, I will have to accept that being an eternal family will not enable me to grow up with my brother here on earth and participate in the important chapters of each others’ lives. Temple ordinances open the door for different, not identical, opportunities. The entire experience has forced me to rethink where I stand on certain issues – and to be comfortable knowing that future experiences may change how I feel about it all over again.
Have you ever experienced something that made you hold on tighter or clarify what you really believe?