The Five Bullshit Stages of Grief

Yeah, that’s right. I said it. Grief is bullshit. So sue me.


And it’s a choose your own adventure situation…only you don’t have any real choice in the matter. You think you get to pick what order the stages go in or whether or not (and how often) you’ll be forced to return to one stage or another. Newp! You’re wrong. But there they are. The five bullshit stages of grief.

I think this is pretty accurate representation of said BS:

Everyone knows that grief will sneak up on you. You also probably know that grief doesn’t just happen when a loved one dies. It happens when you go through a breakup, a serious illness, divorce, when a friend decides they don’t want to be friends anymore, when a cherished pet dies, and the list goes on. All we really know is that there is no way to plan grief. You can, however make it a more difficult process if you don’t allow yourself to go through it.

So, recently, I had the super awesome opportunity to go through relationship grief. Fun times, to be sure. The thing is, the stages were so damn obvious it was almost entertaining. Not to me but perhaps to outside observers. It went from that didn’t really happen did it? To…BIG MAD, BIG SAD, scrambling to figure out how to fix everything, and finally…just kaput. In other words….I was the perfect linear example of grief. But wait, there’s more.

No, literally, there is ALWAYS more. Grief is like that annoying coworker who just won’t get another job. Or take another assignment. No matter what you do, they just keep showing up, unannounced and telling you once again that they farted in their office. And if you think I am kidding about that, I absolutely am not. Point is, that bitch grief? She keeps coming back for more and then leaving a shit stink in her wake.

I think it’s particularly likely for grief to revisit if you have tried to skip or sprint through a particular phase. For instance, to deal with the initial trauma of my recent er…issue, I gathered my tribe and told them to create a rage playlist. I wore that playlist out. It kept me alive, really…for about a month. Sounds like an exaggeration but it isn’t. In the beginning I HAD to be as mad as possible. I wasn’t ready to do anything else. Well, strike that, I also turned into 2023’s most adept female Sherlock Holmes. Maybe that was a smart move on my part – the focused anger. At that time, I didn’t have the strength to feel all the things. I needed to get physically better. I needed to feel less crazy. So, to my curators of the rage playlist, I thank you. Also, if you are reading this and need a rage list, hit me up. It’s a doozy.


Sorry, but I needed to emphasize that I walked away from this post yesterday. One, I was at work (gasp!) blogging on company time and two, I needed to go help my bestie celebrate her birthday. But my coming back today is important because now I have a timely example of how grief can kick your ass. Like….really really give you a hard slap in the face. Also, I think it’s kinda messed up that I somehow set myself up for how I would end the day. As if writing a post about grief would actually send me there later. Big grrrrrrr.

But I was sent there …to the land of grief and it was not voluntary or planned or appreciated. Sitting there…late…on a random Wednesday, in a heap on my bathroom floor, propped up with my pup in my lap, and sending above-referenced bestie a Marco Polo. Real cool grief. Real cool.

Triggers happened yesterday. I know that now. Just like they did on Veteran’s Day and at random moments over the last several months. I told bestie that the thing that pissed me off the most was having to attempt to handle all of this like an adult. I’d much prefer an option that didn’t include occasional fits of crying rage but as I said above, that’d just prolong the five bullshit stages of grief. So, here we be.

And it’s ok to be here. Here is mostly filled with joy. With laughter. With time well spent. With meeting new and authentic people. With the fulfillment of a career I love, a family I’m proud of and a dog I can’t control…but adore. But sometimes, I do have the feels about wasted time. I didn’t need another lesson to learn. Not that one, anyway. I’d be A-Ok if none of what happened….happened.

But it did happen. And it has to be dealt with at its own pace. That, my friends, is grief. So, for me, I’ll sit with it from time to time. Let it sink in a bit and do its thing. I am proud that I am at a point in my life where I can work through the ‘why’ in a healthy way. What was the trigger(s)? Why am I bothered by this or that? That ability to reflect is not something I’m accustomed to. I would typically steamroll through the after action report. But I don’t do that anymore. I want to understand my own heart and do better by her in the future. And that means, I gotta let the bullshit in sometimes.

Two things can be true. I say that a lot. You can still be grieving the loss of something you loved while enjoying the simple pleasures of a life well-lived. When they say, “live in the moment,” they don’t follow with “only the good moments though.” Such is the karmic trade off. You cannot possibly appreciate the true beauty of life without letting a little ugly in from time to time. It’s what makes the good moments stand out. So, I guess if I could offer advice about getting through grief, I’d say this. You don’t get through grief – it goes through you. Sometimes all at once. Sometimes at random moments. All I can offer is that it is a necessary part of life. We need grief as much as we need love. And for me? I’m just glad I have still have the capacity to recognize and appreciate all the love around me. So, grief…you absolute bitch face…thank you?

4 thoughts on “The Five Bullshit Stages of Grief

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  1. You’re amazing, and you are so great at expressing complex feelings and you always hit the nail on the head. ((BIG GIANT HUG)) Never stop being as fabulous as you are! xoxox

  2. powerful sis! My favorite statement: “I want to understand my own heart and do better by her in the future. And that means, I gotta let the bullshit in sometimes” You are strong and get a little stronger through each bullshit moment you process! Love you!

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