Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Five Stages of Grief

Being a nurse, I am very familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's 5 stages of grief. It is practically crammed down your throat in nursing school. Until Riley was diagnosed, theses stages hadn't really had much to do with my life. I have experienced deaths of close family members, but I never really went through the stages. I was just sad for a while and then went on with my life and missed them terribly.

The stages are as follows:

Denial
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

The basic premise is that we all go through these stages when grieving. We all spend different amounts of time in each stage and go through the stages in different orders. For example, some start with depression, then anger, bargaining, denial, and then acceptance. Others will go through it just as it is listed.

When Riley was first diagnosed, I went through a stage of denial. I kept thinking maybe the Dr. was wrong and his pancreas would again start working. I thought maybe the tests they did were wrong. He just had a little virus and things would be back to normal soon.

Next, it was bargaining. I bargained like heck with God. I would do ANYTHING if He would just heal Riley.

Then, I went through a brief time of acceptance. This one didn't last long before I moved on to depression. I just couldn't believe that my sweet boy would have to go through this for the rest of his life. The thought of getting up in the morning and starting the day by poking his finger just became almost unbearable.

Then, I'd totter back and forth between acceptance and depression. Then, a flash of anger. How could this happen to my child? Why? It's not fair! Why does he bounce back and forth from 55 to 400? I don't know who I was mad at, but boy was I mad.

Right now, I think I'm in the acceptance phase again. I've just learned to deal with the day to day fluctuations of this horrible disease. Even though I've accepted that this is the way that it has to be, I'm still not even close to being happy.

There are still days when I think I go through every single stage. My mood can shift so suddenly. Another thing about the stages of grief is that they can last for a long time. Sometimes I wonder if I will be going through them for the rest of my life. And that makes me angry....and another stage begins.

8 comments:

Jamie said...

Penny - interesting for me to look through that list again. I can't really say one way or another where I am in there. Some days I feel as though I've accepted that my child has Diabetes, but then other times I'm depressed and angry (yes, both at the same time). I am definately not following the order listed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. BUT I am experiencing most of those feelings.

Denial was short lived - shock was the immediate response though and I don't think I've bargained at all with anyone, because there is no one who can do anything about it. Basically, I bounce around between anger, depression and acceptance. And, I don't know if that will ever change (which is depressing in itself).

:(

christy214 said...

The getting up in the morning and first thing testing his blood is a ritual now...He could do it on autopilot. I guess the best advice my son's endo could give is to think of taking care of diabetes as like putting on your seatbelt. It's a good habit to get into. I'm not sure about being Happy about any of this...I've been so angry at some points that my familys life has been turned upside down...I know there is a reason why, but when it presents itself, I can say Oh that's WHY this all has happened.Maybe that's part of acceptance, but I still have days where I feel like turning the waterworks on and feel like giving up, but I love him so much that no matter what I'm fighting the good fight and just keep on going, enjoying every victory, and learning from every set back...
Have a great weekend!

Sandra Miller said...

Penny,

I read this post a few days ago, and have been thinking about it ever since.

It's really hard for me to imagine ever fully accepting the fact that my son will have this disease for the rest of his life.

For now, yes. But forever-- definitely not.

And that's made this hard, awfully hard-- prompting frequent shifts from anger to depression to denial to acceptance and back again...

You see, unlike a death, there is really nothing final about all of this-- unless you no longer believe a cure is possible.

It's a strange catch-22. If you give up on a cure, I think it makes acceptance easier. If not, then acceptance becomes a far greater challenge.

More of a balancing act, really.

In which we try to cope well with disease management, without losing hope that, someday, we won't have to.

Anonymous said...

Can we just eliminate the 5 stages of grief? People were sad before Kubler Ross penned this package in 1969. I think the deep sadness we feel when our child is diagnosed with a chronic disease (that never has a remission for even 1 day) is demeaned when it is categorized. You mention you are sad and you get the Kubler Ross pamphlet. Well, that pamphlet doesn't cut it. Let me say , that I understand your grief..because I feel it every day myself...even on the happiest day..I think about those numbers..I think of the carb counting..I think about kidney failure.. I think about vision loss.. I think about amputations...and I realize that my son will face some great hardships in his life. My son is 14 years old... I grieve for the loss of his carefree childhood. His friends were laughing and joking in the back of my car the other day..they had a cake eating contest..and my son sat silently watching them. No, it isn't about a piece of cake..it's about being a happy carefree teenage boy. As a nurse, I have seen what Diabetes can do..it is not pretty. I will continue to feel sad...I accept the disease..but that doesn't mean that I like it.

my sweet girl said...

How about guilt? I think I have created my own stage. Is guilt something anyone else is experiencing? My daughter was diagnosed 5 years ago and I am suddenly consumed with guilt.
Yvette

Penny said...

You are not alone in your guilt, my friend. I've had a lot of guilt over the past 5 1/2 years. I've had guilt because I feel like my genes are tainted and I passed them onto Riley. And, I've had guilt because I didn't prevent it somehow, even though I know that it couldn't be prevented. Guilt, maybe, because as a mother I'm supposed to protect my child and this stupid disease made a suprise attack that I wasn't prepared to defend. Or guilt, because one day this will all be his to bare on his own.

I could go on and on with the ways I feel guilt about my son having this disease. Even as I type it i know that it's not my fault he has diabetes. My head gets that. My heart doesn't.

Kathy said...

It has been 14 years since my very happy, active, beautiful child was suddenly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and I still find myself vacillating between these stages. Once he went away to college however, my son has spent much of his time in denial and now is experiencing extreme frustration and anger as his lack of diabetes control may cost him his job. I listen, love, and am trying to be supportive. I have even recommended professional counseling. If you have dealt with this and have a recommendation on how best to support him as he works his way to acceptance, I would be so grateful if you would share.

Penny said...

Kathy, my little man is only 9 and ,thankfully, we haven't been through this yet. It seems to be pretty common though. I think most kids with D go through it at some time or another. So, I have no words of wisdom. But I wanted to let you know about tudiabetes. I don't know if you've ever been there before or not. It's a social network for those with D and their caregivers. You might want to check it out. I started a group on there called Parent of Kids with Type 1. You can join that group and post you question there and will probably get a wealth of information from other D moms and dads up there. Hope this helps.