Four Levels of The Five Stages of Grief (Linda Paston):
1. Literal Comprehension
The night when the narrator lost her husband someone told her that she should go through the Five Stages of Grief. They tell her, it will be easy like climbing the stairs after amputation. So, she does as asked, she goes through the first stage ie. Denial.
She sits down on the breakfast table, sets the toast for two people. Then, she passes the paper to her husband and he hides behind it.
Then, comes another stage ie. anger. She burns the toast and snatches the paper from her husband and starts reading herself. But all the news ais about her husband’s death.
After that, she starts to bargain with the death, searching for the things that she could exchange for him like the silence after storms or the typing fingers.
Even before she could decide, she gets hit by the depression. She gets reminded of the cold truth about their relationship. They were just tied together. Through this, even though she had climbed the stairs of grief. She climbs down to the bottom. All the hope she has is flashing before her eyes.
It’s been a year, only after that, she could stand on her own feet. The green color she had in her life is forgotten and finally, she is climbing towards acceptance. She finally has accepted her husband’s death. The stages of grief id complete but she feels it doesn’t end here since grief is a circular staircase, she might climb several times but she will get to the same place.
As the title suggests, the poem ‘The Five Stages of Grief’ is trying to show the five stages of grief ie. denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It’s about how a human behaves through these stages.
On the other hand, the lady in the poem might be grieving the death of her husband nut along with the stages she is also realizing the sad truth about their relationship. She is realizing how their relationship was turning cold even when her husband was alive.
Similarly, with the realization of the relation, the poetess might be showing the course of her own marriage. The relation between her husband and her might be changing which she is trying to reflect in the poem. Like: something might happen between them which causes grief, after a long time she will accept it but right after that something else happens. This might be what she meant when she said that grief in life is a circular staircase.
3. Critical Thinking
The poem is an interesting one to read but there are few questions that arise in my head. The poetess has expressed the experience of her married woman whose relationship with her husband is bad. But,
- Doesn’t this sound like a family drama?
- Who was the one to ask her to go through the stages of grief? Isn’t this something that comes naturally?
- Since the death of her husband has been accepted by her, why should she go through these stages again?
- If the death has already been accepted, what’s the reason tho be angry and bargain again?
The lady in the poem reminds me of one of my friend’s mom. She behaved the same way when her husband died suddenly on a bike accident. When she started behaving like her husband’s still here, many people said that she has gone crazy due to her loss. She’d prepare the food for him and call him. But after 6-7 months she seemed to have accepted his death and was acting normal. Now, I can understand that she was going through the stages of grief.
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