"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Monday, August 23, 2004
From Here to There
tran-si-tion Function: noun
Etymology: Latin transition-, transitio, from transire
1 a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : CHANGE b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
2 : harbinger of grief
It's not just for the terminally ill, you know.
Back in 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published her book titled "On Death and Dying." In the book she defines what she calls the "five stages of grief" that a terminally ill patient goes through.
We are all guilty of seeing the world through our own personal lens. Kubler-Ross saw the world through her "grief of the terminally ill" lens, and applied the five steps accordingly.
They fit, after all.
But it turns out that these five stages occur in any situation of significant change in our lives. Not just dying, but also the death of relationships, the death of loved ones or pets, the loss of a job, the diagnosis of a chronic illness, even the marriage of a child or a pregnancy.
The problem here lies in our definition of grief. In 1974, the "Handbook of Psychiatry" defined grief as "the normal response to the loss of a loved one by death." Very specific. Yet, by 1991 the definition had evolved to the point where the Grief Resource Foundation of Dallas, TX defined it as "the total response of the organism to the process of change."
Change is the key. Change is what the entire cycle turns on.
What are the five steps? Here they are in the usual order (although they may be experienced out of order or some may even be skipped): Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Any change of circumstance will necessarily send us into this pattern. Let's say a boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with us. Our first reaction is to deny that it could be happening, to try to stop them, to convince yourself that tomorrow it will all be OK again.
Next, anger. "I hate you! I'm burning all your love letters and here's that stupid ring!"
Then, bargaining. "Well, can't we still maybe be just friends? Can we still go out?"
Depression. "My life will never recover from this."
Finally, acceptance. "It's time to get on with my life."
I know I've been wearing ruts in the road with these five steps lately, usually overlapping one set with another. I could give examples, but I'm not sure I want to. Suffice it to say that it feels like some sort of mental roundabout with cars going every which way at once.
The nice thing is that now, at least I know there is some sort of destination, eventually.