Stages

Last week we were dealt a difficult blow when a very close family friend, who’ve I’ve been calling my aunt since I could talk, passed away with a short and difficult battle with cancer. When she told us of her diagnosis in late June, we were shocked. Here was this vivacious woman who did everything she could to stay healthy, was diagnosed with stage 4 inoperable liver cancer. It was like a knife was slammed into our hearts. In November, we said goodbye to her mother who passed of lung cancer and two years ago, she buried her sister who passed from stage 4 breast cancer. In no way was this cancer hereditary (she was adopted).

While I cannot believe that she is gone, this ordeal and my grief makes me think of the Kübler-Ross Model – 5 Stages of Grief. I first learned about Elizabeth and her models when I was in high school. Our English teacher introduced it in a discussion on death and Euthanasia (we had open topic discussions every class), we even had to write a small essay on it. I was intrigued by what she had to say because from as early as I can remember, I didn’t have issues with people dying, especially from horrible diseases. Why would I want them to stay, for my selfish reasons, and suffer any longer (with the exception to one death in the family). I didn’t even really cry when my grandparents passed away. Sure I was heartbroken and sad, and to this day I miss them dearly, but dealing and accepting with the death of a loved one was never an issue.

Kübler-Ross’ Model for the 5 Stages of Grief is as follows:

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

At first I was in denial. I denied that it was cancer and possibly something else. It was so fast, with no signs or symptoms until a few weeks ago… I have never heard of cancer taking someone this fast. I completely jumped over anger. I’m not an angry person (only when backed into a corner), so this stage did not apply. After denial I went straight into bargaining. I’m not a spiritual person, but I did ask God if he could take away all the bad and evil people and spare her life. I guess this was selfishness talking, but I was really thinking of her grandkids… they loved their grandma so much, and the thought of them losing her tore my heart into tiny pieces. After a few days of talking to myself, I finally decided I had to accept this. There was nothing that I could do, nor could the doctors. I could not cure or heal her of cancer, and no how hard I begged… her life would not be spared.

But what about depression? Depression is a strange little thing. It acts in weird ways. Depression came last. For a few days after her death, I was depressed. On the second day I had to get myself off the couch and into non-grungy clothes and get out…. even if it was to visit the grocery store. I have to admit. I’m not sure if I could even classify it as depression, more like, sadness. One of my favourite people in the whole-wide world is now gone, and I will never be able to talk to her again.

The funny thing is, that when I was planning the huge Christmas dinner last year something told me I had to do it. It was like this force came over me because someone/something told me that someone was not going to be with us next year and that I had to make this the best Christmas ever. I had mixed feelings. I wanted to do it, but then again… if I had this feeling of impending loss, if maybe not doing it would prevent it, then maybe I shouldn’t. But I did anyway. And I’m glad I did. I was able to create this amazing memory of her and of all of us celebrating Christmas together, cramped in our little living room and sharing in good memories of Christmases past.

Cancer is a nasty bitch, which we all wished never existed. I’m tired of going to funerals of loved ones who have passed from this horrible disease. I’m tired of young lives being taken, people being taken from their prime.

Goodbye auntie, I will miss you terribly. I hope that wherever you may be, that you are no longer in pain and are having a good time with your sister and mom. Say hello to my grandparents for me.

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