Sunday, June 24th, 2012
Blogs | Sociology of Sheena
The 5 Stages of Grief ~ James Franklin Pyles
James Franklin Pyles
December 13, 1982Â -Â June 24, 2004
It is written that there are five stages of grief, loss and death.
The first of these is DENIAL.
Days after your death I wrote words in my journal beside the Camp Luther lake. I wrote what I not title “Suspended Disbelief.”
I hate escaping reality, if only for a moment to give me some form of peace and then all at once I remember your death again. I try to kid myself. This didnâ€™t actually happen. Rachel heard wrong. There was a misprint. Your life canâ€™t be over. You were the one who introduced me to the music of U2.Â I display pictures of you on my closet. I still have the letters we sent each other. I shake the thought from my mind. No, youâ€™re not dead. In August, Iâ€™m going to find you on campus and Iâ€™m going to beg you to forgive me for my immaturity and after awkward tries, weâ€™ll become friends again. No, its not possibleâ€¦how can it be. It doesnâ€™t make sense for you to be dead. You wanted a family. You had only begun to explore the facets of your faith. Youâ€™re only 21. You still havenâ€™t learned how to dance. You need a haircut. What about your little niece? Whoâ€™s going to take her on walks and draw pictures for her?
There were too many things between us for your life to be over. I canâ€™t grip any thing right now. Its like Iâ€™m trying to make sense of things in my head but its not working. Iâ€™m missing something. I canâ€™t quite stand. My mind is playing tricks on me. My emotions are fucked up. Where are you? Where is heaven in relation to earth? I feel like I just might crack, that if I let reality sink in, I might lose it. But if I stay in this state of uncertainty, not quite sure what is true, what any of it meansâ€¦Iâ€™m just going to drive myself crazy.
I shake the thought from my head. Itâ€™s the umpteenth time today. Just a slight shake to clear my head. Youâ€™re not really dead.
If I try not to think about it, if I fully immerse myself in washing this plate, putting this shirt onâ€¦then for a moment, time and reality donâ€™t matter. Just the task at hand. I play scrabble. I play Yahtzee. I just got five 5â€™s. That means fifty points. I won the game. And I celebrate. I smile. â€śJames is dead,â€ť something whispers. I shake the thought from my head. Thatâ€™s almost impossibleâ€¦.almost.
The second of these is ANGER.
Next I wrote, “The Obituary I Never Wanted to Read.” After writing on relief, selfishness, sadness, disgust, guilt,Â wrote on blame, fury and anger.
Blame. Fury. Anger. Did you have a seat belt on? You yelled at me that one time in the car with Tim and Kate. It was the beginning of a huge fight. â€śWeâ€™re not going anywhere until you put your seat belt on,â€ť you said. I gave you a challenging look. You reached over and put it on for me and I refused to talk to you for the rest of the night. The next day you pulled me aside. You were almost crying. â€śSheena, I lost my sister. Iâ€™ve told you before how much that affected me. I was crushed. I loved her. But she didnâ€™t have her seat belt on. It was a stupid thing to forget. I need you to wear a seat belt every time youâ€™re in a car. Promise me that. I donâ€™t ask you for much, but Iâ€™m asking this.â€ť
I remember wiping your tears off your cheek. â€śIâ€™m sorry. I was being stupid,â€ť I said. â€śPromise me,â€ť you said forcefully. â€śOk, I promise.â€ť â€¦So were you, Plyes? Were you wearing a seatbelt? And Israel. What were you thinking? With the state of the world? With the way things are. Did you think things would be ok? All of us exhausted our energies worrying about French Philip. We forgot about you. So what were you thinking? But you knew the risk. Itâ€™s been your dream. Just why now?
Â I want to yell at you. How dare you leave me with the task of reading your obituary? Am I supposed to add it to my pile? Now they seem insignificant. They seem distant compared to you. You used to be concerned that I would die first because of my sicknessâ€”it was a secret I only shared with you. â€śWhat happens if we were to marry and have children? And then you died. How am I supposed to live with that?â€ť you asked. Well Plyes, it was you who left me with an obituaryâ€¦now I have to figure out how this all works.
And Iâ€™m frustrated because how do I keep this from being just like everything else. We live our lives haphazardly. Some tragedy hits. We realize how fragile we are. We make promises to do betterâ€¦and for a while we love each other without judgment but as alwaysâ€¦always we fall back into the same cycles. We repeat our sins. We forget. How do we remember and live our lives at the same times. How do we stay better?
Because I need that. I need that answer so that I donâ€™t lose touch with reality. I need the answer so that I donâ€™t fall into disillusionment. I refuse to let your death be a lesson to live. We never let those words be true and it would make your death be in vain and you deserve better than that. Plyesâ€¦you are dead and at one oâ€™clock, Iâ€™m supposed to go on a bike ride to Dairy Queen, how do I make sense of that.
â€śI donâ€™t want you to believe that Iâ€™m perfect,â€ť you wrote, â€śI make mistakes. But our friendship is without judgment. I can be fully seen. And I think thatâ€™s how it should always be.â€ť For the moment, thatâ€™s how Iâ€™m going to remember you. And for the record, damn you and God and Israel and whoever else for making me have to write any of this.
The third of these is BARGAINING.
In El DĂa de los Muertos, I wrote…..
Just what the hell is god working on right now?
In the theatrical production of Secret in the Wings, there is one fairy tale story about a man who loses the woman he loves and through some magic leaves she comes back to lifeâ€¦.but she is different. Hallowed out, perhaps.
This will never make me a saint, but Iâ€™d make a deal with the devil to bring James back. But I donâ€™t believe in him. I believe in magic. But what good does that do me?
I sometimes feel hallow. And sometimes worse than the hallow-ness, I feel EVERYTHING. Every ounce of pain inside me grabs a hold of me and tears through me with a fierceness. And I donâ€™t know which is worse.
Â The fourth of these is DEPRESSION.
In Suffocation, I wrote….
James, I have found that I am overwhelmed with your absence. The grief is suffocating me. I am finding that its hard to breathe. I thought I was passed this James. I thought that I had made my peace with the new form of you. I am overwhelmed that there is no tangible evidence of our written words. My memories fade and I’m panicking.
The fifth of these is ACCEPTANCE.
I wrote the following in You Are Always.
For years, I believed that the proper way to deal with your death was in reliving the pain. I thought healing meant Iâ€™d get comfortable and in the comfort, the memories would fade and I would forget. Therefore each time the wound of your death began to heal, I tore it open. I made it infectious. I poured acid and salt over it. I refused to heal. I thought I had to live in pain. I thought I needed to stay in the darkness.
Living in darkness in no way honors you or myself. Why did I believe that before?
I have let the wound heal now. What has become of it is a huge scar across my soul and my heart and my mind. A beautiful scar that bares the beauty of you and the pain of what happened. I will not try to mask this scar. I will not let it go away. The scar reminds me that I am alive. That when a horrific incident occurred, I was able to find a way to keep living.
Some stories stop at death. Even the ones who stayed alive. They became the walking dead. They became zombies. But I let the wound heal. I wear my scar. And I know I am alive.
I can not let memories of you break my heart. I have to let the memories and the pain expand my heart. I canâ€™t stay in pieces. That will make me a zombie and I want to be whole.
I am so very grateful for every moment we had and the moments we continue to have. Please keep revealing yourself to me. Find me and show me you are here. I tried bargaining with God and I tried making deals with the devil and neither is willing to do anything. So I need you to do it. I need you to move your essence into my life over and over again.
I believe the way to honor you is to continue living my life as fully as possible. To surround myself with all that is good and holy. To stay intentional and purposeful. To be passionate, full of conviction and to never let any moment be dull.
I have experienced the full rage of emotions as it relates to you James. I think I even invented a few extras that donâ€™t have names. And Iâ€™ve arrived at a place of peace. This peace isnâ€™t always calm. Its sort of like constantly walking through storms. Some days the wind throws me one hundred yards. Some days Iâ€™m right in the eye of it, looking straight up and saying, â€śNow what?â€ť I like this kind of peace.
I never imagined that Iâ€™d be here. I thought in all the grief that Iâ€™d give up and lose everything. There were times when I couldnâ€™t even see the next day. Some days when I couldnâ€™t see the next minute. I think for awhile I literally lost my mind. But instead of trying to find that broken mind. I formed a new one.
You are not gone. You are always.