Boy, its been a long 5 or so years. We moved into our first RV (Winnie) just over 5 years ago, and let me tell you, its definitely been a learning curve and life has happened, as it always does. The things I know about RV living now is amazing compared to back then. More skills in the survival reference of me, definitely, but have I truly taken all of it in? Have I dealt with life’s curve balls as they came or did I just keep moving forward, one foot at a time? Lately, this has been a topic that has been circling through my brain.
I now understand holding tanks, am close friends with Dry-Z-Air, have learned how to minimize what I believe is necessary, am a cleaning freak (well, not all of the time but much more so than previously), have made living in a 22 foot travel trailer with 4 dogs an art form, can prepare everything for a move in less than an hour, and have drifted back and forth between being just fine with the scenario and longing desperately for a house. Its a life. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago but, then again, who is?
During our time with RV living so far, life has thrown quite a few losses in our path. Deaths, mostly. It is here that I am truly wondering if I dealt with life as it came or if I just…well, you know…left foot, right foot-ed my way through the losses without really processing any of the feelings that should have gone with it.
How does one grieve? I have been told and heard that everyone processes grief in their own way. Is this just something someone says when they don’t really have an answer to the grieving process? Does anyone truly have an answer?
Lets take a look at the five stages of grief.
Denial and Isolation
Many different sources say that it is normal to deny the death of a close loved one, regardless of species. I can honestly say that this stage is not one that I have ever gone through. Death is certain. For me to attempt to deny it would mean intentionally lying to myself. I have definitely gone through some confusion over the death of a loved one. When my kids’ dad died a year and a half ago, the emotional confusion was immense. He had been a part of my life for 20+ years and was one of those people you never imagined not being there. I was in the hospital room with him when he stopped breathing and a few minutes later his heart stopped. There was no denying it. I miss him and the confusion that happens for me is trying to reconcil my emotions over his death with the reality of it. I still wish I could call him sometimes. Part of me is still shocked from time to time that he is no longer around. He was a part of my life for so long that I find it…confusing to not have him still a part of it. Maybe that is the denial phase for me. I’m not denying he is dead, just having a hard time removing him from the accessibility part of my life.
Really?! I don’t understand this one at all. Ok. I can understand it, but it seems so irrational. Angry at the person for dying? Angry that they are gone? I’m not sure. When my very dear, close friend, Tom-Tom, took his life a few years ago, everyone was worried about how I would take his death. At his memorial, I was told that anger would come and I should just allow myself to feel what I needed to feel when it did. Why would I be angry? Yes, it really sucks that he killed himself, that he is gone, that everyone that loved him will never get to have that “one more” whatever, but angry? I am supposed to mad at him for taking his life? How could I? He obviously felt that he and life had nothing left to give each other or that he wanted no more of what life had to offer. His decision, not mine. I don’t have to agree with it. I wish he hadn’t but…well, I’m grateful for the time and relationship that I was blessed with. And, at the end, there is really no one to blame for his decision.
Again, one I don’t understand when it comes to death. Promising to be a better person so that no one else need ever die in my life again? I don’t know. If someone could enlighten me on this one, I would greatly appreciate it. In most pre-death situations, I believe bargaining is useless. In the case of Tom-Tom, I would have bargained to give him the universe to get him to change his mind if I had known he had a plan and the determination to follow it out.
This one I completely understand, though I don’t think I have allowed myself to truly deal with the depression of loss over the last 5+ years. We lost the house and moved into a black mold infested RV, had to re-home some animals at that time and the kids moved in with their dad, one of the kids’ uncles died (one of their dad’s 4 brothers I really enjoyed hanging out with), 2 of their Grandpas died (their dad’s dad, an interesting man, and their grandma’s husband, another very nice person), their dad died, another uncle died (their dad’s baby brother, completely unexpected), my daughter gave up her two dogs (litter mates of my Achilles and Enzo), one of my cats was hit by a car and died, and one of my cats and my son’s cat were eaten by coyotes this past September. The sadness that still comes when one of these deaths crosses my mind makes me wonder if it will ever stop being a sore spot. I cry every time I think of my daughter’s two dogs. I don’t believe that time heals these wounds. I think time just gets you used to the bleeding wounds.
I think I start here. As I said before, death is death. You are either alive or you are dead. In between is being in a coma or in the process of dying, and in those cases, I can understand a lot more of the 5 stages of grieving. I didn’t keep waiting for the cats to show up. I knew they were dead. I didn’t wait for my daughter to just decide to keep her dogs. They were gone. For me, acceptance of death, though painful, is a given. I’m not going to wake up tomorrow to find that none of these deaths or losses has happened. It just is.