In her book, On Death and Dying, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identifies and discusses the five stages of grief. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While the five are not a linear and predictable progression, they are individually identifiable and collectively quantifiable. Intensities vary depending on the persons and events and can have a significant impact on lives, potentially altering the future.
2015 was a rough year for us as everyone around here has been dealing with the painful losses of some of our cherished fur babies, the most recent being Miss Annie. About the time we move from one stage to the next, we experience another event which either restarts the grieving process or combines multiple progressions, throwing off our sense of direction. Our ship is battered, our sails are torn, our rudder disabled.
The pups have been processing their own grief and as we help them move from one stage to another, their overall patterns of behavior are changing as well. While they skip the anger stage, which may be exclusive to humans, they have undeniably experienced denial, bargaining (or pleading) and depression. They have not moved to a state of acceptance but they are slowly inching toward it.
Mumford’s world feels barely a ripple because she doesn’t interact much with the other dogs but life for the Budster and the Duchess is much different now. Their awareness, placement and confidence have been disrupted. Whereas Buddy used to lay on the floor next to my desk while I worked during the day, he now lays in the hallway with his head near the bathroom door where Annie used to lay. At night, he would lay in his cubby most of the time when we were watching television and now he lays near the fireplace hearth where Annie used to lay. At night, the Duchess was always in the family room near us and now she is either laying in the hallway or against the front door where Annie used to lay. When she does come into the family room, she heads directly for me and presses her head against my chest, wanting love and then she might climb onto the sofa next to Mom for a while before moving on. At times, Buddy seems to still be looking for Annie, possibly vaccilating between denial and depression. The Duchess appears to also be in that holding pattern and needs more comfort and assurance which is understandable given the circumstances. The Missus and I are probably at the same point in our grieving process. The state of acceptance, while theoretically possible, is never conclusive.
Like me and the Missus, the animals were also moving through the stages of grief after Sadie left and then restarted/combined them when Ruger left and then restarted/combined again after Miss Annie passed. Understandably, our ships are barely afloat but we have lashed them together and thus, we survive.
25 Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved [John] standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!” 27 He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!” From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.
Jesus saw two battered ships and lashed them together. He knew what they needed before they did. He intervened and kept them both from sinking. Two things that are broken become strong when they bound together.
The enemy will attack when we are at our weakest. He will drag us to the depths if given the chance but God’s strength and steadfast love protects us when we are at our weakest.
…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
Your ship may be battered, your sails torn and you may pray for the safety of the harbor but that is not where ships belong and God will oftentimes bring another battered ship along beside you and will lash your lives together. He knows what we need before we do and He is always there in our time of distress.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain,