five stages

Sometime around 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came up with the five stages of grieving, which was eventually published in her opus “On Death and Dying.” She suggested that people dealing with major grief-causing events experienced the following stages (not in any particular order): Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

I would argue that I deal with these stages on a regular basis for everyday, mundane events. Grief-Causing Event: Having to Get Out of Bed. STAGES – DENIAL: NOOOOO! It can’t be TRUE! I just fell asleep two hours ago! It’s not possible that I have to get up already! ANGER: Dammit, WHY do I HAVE TO? This is so ridiculously unfair! I’m going to make everyone’s life MISERABLE if I have to get out of bed. BARGAINING: Can’t I just have five more minutes? I will be a much happier person if I can just have five more minutes. I’ll give you something you want in return. You want that new toy, right? Five more minutes of sleep and it’s yours.  DEPRESSION: If I just kill myself now I can stay in bed forever. ACCEPTANCE: Well, the dogs aren’t going to walk themselves. I might as well get up before they pee on the carpet again.

This would also be true if I was at a restaurant that served only Coke products. “What do you mean I can’t have a Mountain Dew? Do you know how sorry I’m going to make you if I don’t get my Mountain Dew?” I do eventually accept it, however, and order a Coke. But I’m pretty darn depressed about it.

So imagine my poor little mind as it tries to wrap itself around my son’s cancer relapse. Having been through the stages before, I moved fairly quickly through Denial and am now stuck on Anger. Mixed with Depression. With a side of Acceptance. I know there’s no reason to Bargain. Cancer doesn’t care. If I promise to appreciate every single day I have with my children it will not change the fact that my son has cancer again. If I become a better person. Or a more frequent church-goer. Or brush my teeth after every meal (snacks included) it will NOT change the fact that my son has cancer. Bargaining has proven to be a worthless effort. I’m going to remain the same person I am who hates to put away laundry and is a professional procrastinator. Who loves to start projects but never finishes them. But who wildly loves her children and actually enjoys spending time with them. Changing my “evil ways” is not going to change the fact that Ben has cancer. So, for all you weirdos who say I’ve brought this on myself, I have some choice words for you. And since you’re all experts on how I should be handling MY life, I’m sure you can figure out those words all by yourself.

Yeah, I’m stuck in the anger phase. Ben is a wonderful boy who doesn’t deserve any of this. No child does. But, right now, I can see him playing on his computer and eating some Doritos and feeling pretty darn good, so I’m trying to feel good, too. And, we have a plan. Sometime around June 20th we’re traveling to Cincinnati to consult with Dr. Brian Weiss at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Matt and Madeline will be traveling along, too, so after our consultation we’ll head to Columbus to see family and friends. I’ll be staying with my dad in Bexley. Ben’s birthday is Saturday, June 22, so we’re hoping to hold an open house where people can come and visit (or meet for the first time!) the amazing Bean and Madeline! Icing Smiles has agreed to supply him with a birthday cake and I’m sure we’ll get Donatos because that’s Ben’s favorite (mine, too). Details are in process and I’ll send out an evite or facebook event or something. If you’re not my pal on FB, you can send me your email address and I’ll make sure you’re aware of the details as we get closer to the event.

Then, we’ll be heading back to Cincinnati the following week to get radioactive. Madeline will stay in Columbus, so anyone wanting to entertain her for an afternoon or so, let me know. She needs some high doses of feeling special.

I’m feeling better about having a plan, but dammit, I’m still mad. And sad. And briefly accepting. Our lives have entered into a new phase that I’m not happy about and while I should focus on using my five stages to get through Ben’s cancer, I can’t help but go through them every time I have to do laundry. Or walk the dogs. Or go downstairs to get myself a Mountain Dew.

It seems like every little event is completely debilitating. Stupid Cancer. You do NOT know how to throw a party. So, I’m uninviting you.


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  1. I wanted to share that I have also had a knock down, blow out with our daughters cancer and you are right, it DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN!! I find it so irritating that it has the ability to completely piss me off but there is NOTHING I can do to “ruin it’s day” I feel like I have to run and get my “mommy” the oncologist so she call call cancers mommy and MAYBE come to some sort of an agreement! But cancer is a bully and a coward!! It hides deep inside where no one is looking and plays hide and seak! Well it’s not a fair game because I didn’t know we were playing!! It doesn’t know how to say “good game” and walk away after you kicked it’s ass, so on top of being a bully and a coward cancer is also a sore loser!! Well I wish we could tell cancer the same thing we have to tell ourselves as our kids are going through this, ” suck it up, it’s not about you!” Damn cancer!!!


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