In the 1970’s, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief was vastly popular and much preached. We had the idea that one worked through these stages–denial, anger, bargaining, and depression–in that order until finally arriving at acceptance, the final stage. However, Dr. Kubler-Ross hadn’t meant that these five stages made up the entire task of grief, that one could wrap up mourning in a neat little package and would recover if one followed her teaching exactly. No, she stated that these were five of the stages of grieving but not all of them. She also stated some people didn’t go through all of these and, if they do, probably not in a set order.
After George’s death, I was drowning in denial but don’t remember bargaining. If I did experience anger, it was transient and certainly not against George for leaving me. And I also experienced stages she didn’t include, the first of those being goofiness.
My favorite color is yellow, the color of sunshine and flowers and, for me, healing and joy. When my friend Ellen sends me a gift or flowers, she always chooses yellow. I adored my yellow car. I felt positive driving it and could always find it in a parking lot which cut down on stress. Although it’s not a good color on me, yellow tops and shirts fill the closet because they cheer me up. Yes, I love yellow. Always have.
George’s choices of colors were, well, boring to me. He liked dark green, gray-blue, beige and other earth tones. When I wanted to buy a light-colored sofa, he reminded me what three cocker spaniels would do to that. He was right. Nonetheless, after he died, I needed yellow. Yes, needed yellow! Yearned for it, craved the warmth of my favorite color. I bought two yellow throws on-line, picked up two floral pillows to replace the matching dark green pillows of the love seat, pulled out the yellow towels to replace the blue. Then I bought bright art. I replaced a small picture in the guest bathroom with a map of the United States in yellow and orange and bright primary colors. I bought a 3 x 3 hanging with a yellow background.
Then, after a week, I didn’t need it anymore. I feel slightly embarrassed about that map now. It would look great in the room of a five-year-old. I don’t know what the saying on that wall hanging is because I never put it. It now lives in a closet.
But I needed to do this. For a few days, I needed to be weird and goofy and crazy. The yellow throws got me through those days of intense pain, lifted my spirits in the way dark green didn’t.
For me, goofiness was definitely a stage in healing. I haven’t arrived at complete acceptance but am moving in that direction. I’ve gone through gone-ness, curiosity, and shame as well and plan to share them with you. The point of this blog is that we all grieve in different ways.
Would you share how you’ve handled grief? Have you felt goofy at any time during the process?