You know all those sayings about change: it’s as good as a holiday, it’s inevitable, be the change you want to see…societally speaking, we’re obsessed with change. Probably because we’re also terrified of it, and we think if we act like we know what the fuck is going on, we’ll seem less afraid.
There’s something in us that craves certainty, but life just isn’t like that. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on everything, fate comes along and pulls the rug right out from under you.
That might come as fun stuff like falling madly in love, getting a kick-arse job, or having a longed-for baby. But it can also come as a death, illness, divorce, job loss, financial disaster, or some other unexpected something that leaves you feeling vulnerable and terrified.
It seems catastrophic, but here’s the thing: you’ve survived every catastrophe you’ve faced so far. And look at you, you’re RAD. So you must have handled those okay. And if you fancy yourself as a comedian, you can take comfort in the saying: tragedy plus time equals comedy.
You’re going to be HILARIOUS.
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross knew a lot about grief – those five stages of grief you’ve heard of were coined by her.
You know the ones:
I get those – all of them. I’ve been through some stuff, as have you if I’m not mistaken, and I remember distinctly each of those phases.
- If I pretend it’s not happening maybe it won’t.
- How can this be happening, this is bullshit.
- Maybe if I just try harder, things will work out.
- There’s no point in even trying.
But what I’ve discovered, in my humble yet lived experience, is that there’s a stage that Elisabeth left off. It’s the one that comes after those first five stages, and it’s the best one: CELEBRATION.
I’m going to talk about my divorce here because it’s a recent-ish example of those five stages (see actual thoughts from that time in the list above). I battled hard through all of those stages, but then there was a point after acceptance when the time came out and I realised what I was battling against had actually brought me immense joy and immeasurable improvements.
- My understanding of myself was clearer.
- My financial situation was better.
- My friendships were stronger.
- My confidence soared.
- My self-talk was kinder.
- My life was more balanced.
- My world was bigger.
Far be it for me to fly in the face of a renowned psychologist, but I think we should all think more about the celebration stage of grief, because that’s what gets us through those other five less fun stages. It’s when we can still see the scars but they don’t hurt any more, and we can see how we’ve grown around them.
We can tell the stories of how we got them without feeling ashamed or upset. And yes, we can laugh at things that used to make us cry, because that’s how time works.
We are always saying “the only way is through”, and that’s true, but what’s also important to remember is that when you make it through, the other side is spectacular.
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