Here We Go Round in Circles

The classic Billy Preston song came to mind as I read a piece recently called “Grief Without Stages” by Thomas Long.

Long asserts, and I agree, that grief comes as it will–and not in the neat and tidy stages set forth by the great thinker Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Grief without stages reminds me not only of this song but also of times when you’re in the warm ocean and a burst of cool cascades around you. It seems to me there’s not much linear about it.

To be fair, Kubler-Ross offered a solid guide, a way of mapping intense feelings that seem to have no rhyme or reason. Her five stages: shock, denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance. She became a media darling after the publication of her book, “On Death and Dying.”

Long, a Christian, writes from that perspective. ” … The larger notion that grief moves through some kind of process toward resolution probably owes more a debt to American optimism than to Christian hope.”

A few years ago, in a protracted and somewhat ugly struggle with a friend, culminating with the end of the friendship, I hit upon this realization: There are some relationships that simply can’t be fixed or saved. (At the same time I place a high value on relationships and reconciliation, it’s often my own grasping need to keep every friendship I’ve ever had.)

Which brought me to at least three of the stages–all at once! Here we go round, indeed.


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