The stages of grief (a few more than five)


I don’t believe in those five stages of grief. There are plenty of other theories around. This isn’t one of them.

  1. Go to work like a zombie. Cry on the way to work, on the way home, in the shower and other times too, except when you are too numb. Eat the meals people gave you from your freezer. When you run out drink wine instead.
  2. Plant a garden for your dead daughter.
  3. Go on holiday with the man who says he loves you. Float in the pool, soak up the sun on your back, let the water wash away the tears. Float on the surface of the ocean, removed from the world, letting your eyes and your soul soak up the otherworldly beauty of a reef teeming with colourful life. Feel fragile but hopeful. For a while.
  4. Get dumped by the man who says he loves you. Apparently you are too sad, and by the way it never would have worked out anyway. Resent forever that you asked him to carry your daughter’s casket. He said he loved her too.
  5. Go to work like a zombie some more. When not at work, go to bed. Tell yourself you will get up soon, but don’t. Eat lots of carbs. Tell yourself you’ll get back to the gym soon, but don’t.
  6. Muster some energy to see friends occasionally, drink too much wine and weep, then beat yourself up about the hangover.
  7. Like your friends’ lives on facebook. Don’t see them in real life. Be distantly grateful for their continued kind words, thoughts and actions, even though you don’t reciprocate.
  8. Spend some more time in bed. Read copious amounts about grief. Read other people’s stories. Read about how to heal. Read about how to get out of bed, but don’t.
  9. Start a photo a day project that’s supposed to make you grateful for your life. Abandon it around the anniversary of your daughter’s terminal diagnosis.
  10. Read a couple of books that make something click in your mind. Decide to live.
  11. Realise your daughter will always be with you. That you need to live in a way she would want you to. Get a tattoo that says so the day before the first anniversary of her death.
  12. Tentatively leave your bed. Soak in a spa pool. Go for a walk in the sun. Eat something healthy. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing these things earlier.
  13. Try to forgive the man you thought you would resent forever. Realise it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Still regret asking him to carry your daughter’s casket. Regret is lighter to carry than resentment.
  14. Start to see your friends again. Drink some wine with them and laugh instead of weeping. Be grateful they stuck around.
  15. Book a trip to Europe. Soak up history, art, architecture. Eat cherries and peaches and the best duck ravioli you can imagine. Meet a friend in Paris. Carry the book set in Paris that belonged to your dead daughter while you walk around the city talking about her with your friend. Smile when you talk about her. Drink cheap Rioja in Barcelona while drinking in the essence of the city. Take photographs that truly do make you grateful.
  16. Write about your grief. Write about your daughter. Tend the garden you planted for her. Keep many rituals to remember her by.
  17. Buy the vintage style bike you talked about buying while your daughter was alive. Try to be happy you’ve done it now instead of regretful you didn’t do it then.
  18. Meet someone who unexpectedly stirs something in your soul. Think about letting go of that label you made for yourself, “Done With Men.”
  19. Remember how good swing dancing made you feel. Go back to classes after five years away. Reconnect with someone who remained your friend on facebook for those five years. Be grateful. Let conscious thought go while your brain makes the connections for your body to learn the steps. Let music fill the space where your thoughts were.
  20. Visit a place you love but haven’t been to in a long time. Let the landscape restore you. Keep going back.
  21. Go to see live swing and jazz bands and dance to them. Twice in the space of a few months go listen to the singer songwriter who wrote the soundtrack to your youth perform his new album. See more live music, listen to more singer songwriters. Let it feed your soul.
  22. Make friends with new people who will never know your daughter. Know it’s ok.
  23. Contemplate change. Know it’s ok.
  24. When glimmers of happiness, of meaning, of joy appear – music, friendship, connection, intimacy – hold onto them as if your life depends on it. It does.
  25. Buy a piece of artwork that reminds you of what you value.
  26. Think of your daughter constantly. Accept that loss is now part of you forever. Be in love with your life anyway. Know that this is called being human.

These are my stages of grief. I’m probably not done yet. What are yours?

14 thoughts on “The stages of grief (a few more than five)

    • Thanks for the reblog. Yes any deep grief I think. It’s all different for everyone, but I think a lot of people have been able to relate to this. I think I learned just to take small steps and make the next good choice in front of me rather than trying to look too far ahead.


  1. Hi Kiri- You posted a comment under a piece I wrote over on Medium about my friend, Laura (A Note to Laura’s Mother). I’m new to Medium and I haven’t figured out that comment section and it’s driving me nuts that I can’t respond to your kind words.

    Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to read the piece and respond. I’ve been very worried about whether sharing that piece would cause more pain for Laura’s mother if she ever sees it.

    I’m struggling with the right words so I’ll just stick with thank you for your kindness and the honesty and empathy that comes through in your writing.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Amy, thanks for tracking me down to respond. 🙂 When you click on my comment on Medium, underneath my name you should see that you can respond back as long as you are logged in. It says respond not reply though which is a little confusing. If I were Laura’s mother I would definitely like to see your piece, I think your instinct is right to publish it.


  2. I really, really love how raw and honest this is. Your progress through your grief is so real. The path you are on seems healthy with glimpses of happiness, but I love that you 26 reminds us how your grief isn’t over. It has just changed. As always, thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I think sometimes my writing isn’t raw enough. I would like people going through the first bits to know there are others out there who know how tough it is. In some ways at the beginning I didn’t want it to get easier because it would seem like diminishing the loss. But I have learned to hold onto the love instead of the raw trauma of those first days.


  3. Kiri, my heart aches for you when I read this. I cannot fathom the loss one must feel when losing a child. The mere fact that you are still standing is a testament to your strength. With each day that passes, I wish you a more peaceful heart my friend💛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lynn, my heart is much more peaceful these days, but there is no getting around that you have to go through whatever your stages of grief are to get there.


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