The Five Stages

Years back, I learned in school about Kubler – Ross’ The Five Stages of Grief. It proved to be helpful later on, as I continued to do ministry. I knew how to deal with people in grief and I was able to empathize well, mostly through silence. It was “easy” to extend one’s help to others, I realized. But it is a totally different story when you actually go through the stages yourself. Suddenly, all that would matter and all that helps, is grace.

Here’s the thing about grieving: you will never know when it will end. It may just be subtler in the coming years before acceptance is reached but for some, even reaching that stage is not a finality. Somewhere along the way after acceptance, depression may come again once in a while.

In going through the stages, it is not chronological. One can jump from one to the other. From denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance, it could be rather “messy.”

Yet that is how grief is. It is a messy affair. There would be days when you are okay but there will be days too, when triggered, that you just want to shut off from the world for a while and not move at all.

And it is okay to grieve. It is perfectly okay, too. It is not a sign of weakness but strength. To be able to name what you are grieving for and acknowledging that you are in a specific stage is a sign of maturity. You know you are growing. You know you are taking root.

Somewhere, someday, the flowers will bloom.

Maybe I am angry at the moment. It took a while to recognize I was. And in the quiet of the shrine a while ago after dawn mass and the long walk home, I found that God said it was ok. It was not wrong to feel. It was ok. I am ok. It was ok to flit from “anger to depression” once in a while but to do so, one needs grace. It is okay to grieve but one cannot do it alone.

As people left this morning, I told God all that was in my heart and I received a rather odd reply: “I know. I am grieving with you. I am hurting too.” A minute after that, I saw a friend and that friend sat with me as I cried, walked with me on the way home, too.

It is true: God is close to the brokenhearted. He may seem quiet at times but just like any father, He knows when we cannot take it anymore. He stoops down to His child, looks at her in the eye and he says, “I am here.” When we hurt, because He loves us and His love is infinite for us, His pain is infinite too.

We have a God who grieves with us. A God who goes through all the stages of grief with us. Even if sometimes, we may get irrational about things, He patiently guides us what to do, where to go, whom to talk to. Our God is Emmanuel. He is ever with us.

9 days to go ’til Christmas and I do not know how these days will be. I find though that even in the darkest of nights, He always sends a star or two or more to remind us that there is hope.

I am still looking for that star at this point. Still walking along this uncertainty. But Advent tells me that just like how Jesus slipped into the world unannounced one cold, December night, acceptance will be “full” one day, unannounced too.

It will come. One day, it will.

You just have to go through the stages… with grace and hope alive in the heart.


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