Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boredom, the in-between stage of grief

Is life boring??,
originally uploaded by hawk's_eye 2 oldschool.

Utter boredom. That has been my whole day. Nothing is capturing my interest. I have turned the television on, nothing worth my time. I have been surfing the net, can't remember where my interests used to lie. I sit here on my bed, books on both night stands, none of them being cracked open today. I think I have read half way through each of the books during the past few months, and now I have no interest in finishing them.

This house is dirty, the laundry is half done, I could use a trip to the grocery store, but it's too cold and wet out. Eventually the kids will start wondering what is for dinner, but for now they don't seem too concerned.

It's a sad situation. I don't even care that I have accomplished little today. I don't even care that nothing has captured my interest. Night has set in, and I'll probably sit here, awake, all night long. Even the thought of sleeping has no appeal. Maybe I should take up drinking, at least I could alter my state of consciousness with unconsciousness.

I suppose this is better than spending a day in tears and torment. Even my dog and cat have left my room. They have spent most of the days sleeping at my side. Now that they are alert, and ready to play, I appear to have bore them as well.

Okay, let's try to analyze this. Let's take a step back and look upon this scenario with deeper understanding. What we see is a man well aware that it is day 90, meaning he has been a widower for exactly 90 days. He has lost the love of his life, and that life appears somewhat empty right now. He is going through a 'glass half empty' period.

I, this man, could greatly use a hobby. No, this man has far too much to do. He is just failing to follow through with any type of responsibility today. By Monday he will regret wasting all this time. He will think back on the chores he didn't do, the letters he didn't write, the calls he didn't return, the food he didn't cook, the gifts he didn't wrap....his list can go on and on.

This man in grief has entered a new stage. Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross gave us the framework for the stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, which are commonly referred to as the "grief cycle." It is well accepted that these stages are not necessarily sequential. We can move about them in various directions, sometimes experience more than one stage at a given time.

What appears to be missing from the five stages, is the stage, or state of being numb. My process thus far has been to move from anger, to depression, and to acceptance. I don't have a sense of being in denial or trying to bargain my way out of this. And, the transitions between anger, depression and acceptance have not been very smooth, more like being thrown about by violent waves in the ocean. This is why I sit here a bit confused, what stage am I in today? What am I feeling?

Unfortunately for me, I know myself all too well. I know that this sense of boredom will be washed away very soon, and I will be back to my usual angry and depressed attempt to come to acceptance. What a horrible goal. Who wants to work through these stages when the goal is to accept that the person they love is gone for good?

Oh, I hate this life! Okay, I don't hate this life, I just needed to interject a bit of drama into this boring day. Alright, alright. I will accept this current state of being, appreciate the break from my emotions, and move on with my night. I am going to find the most melodramatic movie on the t.v. and lose myself in it!


  1. i would let you break some fucking dishes. i have the same thing going on sometimes. the way i dealt with it was to be absolutely wreckless like going to the gym until near exhaustion or gaining 20kgs (i know you guys use lbs but i couldnt be fucked converting lol). absolutely erratic behavior. though, i dont think you could go all out like i did on account of children, but, being extremely unlike yourself helps. alcohol helps in a weird way. if you dont have people around to be roudy with will just think of him and cry etc. but im a drunk. um, there is no solution really. you have to find it by accident. i wont go all blah de dah emotional abt it but its normally comes from some stupid place.

  2. p.s. you should add me on IM, i dont know what you guys use but mine is msn. should do the trick in adding me to any IM

  3. Dan, it is just as important to have a break from your grief-work as it is to work at it ... when you have a rest day, it is part of the cycle, a necessary part.

    Some keep themselves so busy to push away the horror. Some (like me) sit on the sofa and wait for 11 months (in my case) for their husband to come home.

    Whatever you do is what you need to do. I too have regretted a wasted day when having to rush around tired after work - doing it then.

    A takeaway pizza or three(!) won't hurt you or the kids. You are allowed to do nothing - grief is EXHAUSTING, like nothing else on earth.

    I hope that Sunday brings you a little energy, just enough so that you can do the absolute necessary, but not too much so that you can't sleep tonight.

    Boo xx

    p.s. I think you live in California? Are you coming to the Conference on Widowhood in August (San Diego)? It would be wonderful to meet you! I am going along with Sudden Widow, woman N shadows and possibly Losing David too :-)

  4. others have said it all. i just wanted to let you know i read your words and that i care.

  5. Dan,
    As Boo already stated much more eloquently, the quiet, lazy, boring days are necessary so we can continue our journey through grief. I used to regret them (time wasted etc. etc.) but now I relish them. I'm 268 days into this journey. I'm still behind in everything, but my kids and I are relatively sane, we love each other and we're moving forward, in thanks partly due to those "down" days. So keep up the good work! Hope to meet you in San Diego!

  6. I have never really liked the grief theory of going through stages. In the end, it has seemed to me that the anger, denial, acceptance, depression, etc. are just all part of one big stage with some of the feelings being stronger at certain times than others. But that is just my personal viewpoint. In my early days I would get upset with myself for not working through the stages fast enough. I didn't like a theory that made me feel bad about how I was grieving.

    Anyway, my wise grief counselor advised me to never stay in the dark tunnel too long - to come up for air and light for brief breaks before going back into the dark. She explained that grief work is too intense and draining and we have to give ourselves some relief. She also told me to go ahead and laugh, see a movie, do whatever I could to distract myself from the very painful work I was doing within my dark tunnel.

    I liked Sudden Widow's comment about being behind in everything. Who really cares if the laundry piles up or dishes are in the sink, let alone unread books? Maybe the boredom is the way your body is forcing yourself to give yourself some time off out of the tunnel.

    I hate that most of us are so hard on ourselves for not getting things done and just vegging out on certain days. We all need to be more kind to ourselves and just have days where we focus on devoting love and attention to ourselves and the loved ones in our life.

    I do like your idea of adding boredom to the grief model. It seems to fit right in with how others are experiencing grief whether we call it taking a break, an off day, down day or whatever.

  7. Hey, great feedback everyone. I am taking all this to heart. In retrospect, yesterday was just what I needed, a day off. Really off.

    Not sure about the conference in San Diego. I'll look into it, but honestly, thought it was solely for women. I do love San Diego, and would love to meet you all.

    As for the IM ability, Pants, I'll need to look into setting that up. My server is AOL, so I'll check it out.


  8. Okay, so I am responding 5 years later, but I am right in this stage too. I did Friday night's sink of dishes on Sunday morning. (Yuck) I still have thank you notes to write and it has been over two months since my husband passed away. My daughter and I eat out twice a week because it is something to do and half the time I can't figure out dinner. I went to the mall and walked around doing nothing there even though it is Christmastime.