Stages vs Layers

Published on 19 April 2023 at 16:45

Coffee thoughts for a Wednesday morning : 
If ever there is anything in life that mimics the layers of an onion, it is being a widow/widower. 
Therapists and counselors use the words “stages of grief”. 
But in these 8 years I have learned at least one thing. 

“Stages of grief” makes no sense to a griever. 

I’ve been told that there are basically 7 stages to grief. 
Which, indicates that we move thru those stages and at some point, we are finished. 
Reality says that we do not go from stage 1 to 2 to 3 . . . And on to 7. 
Reality is that we are stuck in 1, we bounce to 7, we fall back to 3, we go round and round in 4, we step in 2, we trudge thru 5, we try to avoid 6. 
- every day.

Sometimes, every hour of every day. 

Cancer is graded in stages. 
Grieving is not a sickness. 

Grieving is not an illness. 
- Grieving is not something that we get over, that we can be healed from. 
- There is no surgery to remove grief. There are no treatments to eradicate it from our lives. 
So, “stages” - makes no sense to me. 
- And honestly? I think it does a great disservice to those of us who grieve. Because it does play that game of “getting over it” with our minds and our hearts. And when we don’t “get over it”, or when we slip and slide up and down the scales of stages - we fight not only with the grief, but with the discouragement and frustration of the “stages”. 

To me, a better analogy - or terminology - is layers
When eating a layered cake, some of us (me, lol) will often separate the layers, and eat each one individually. 
- Some will stick a fork in the cake, and slide it down thru each layer, for a bite. 
When peeling an onion, we peel away the outside layer. 

- Depending on how bad the inside looks, we may peel away more layers. 

- Or depending on what we are doing with that onion - we peel, we cut, we dice, we chop. 
When a tree is cut down, and we look at the insides, we see the layers - or the rings - of its life. 

As a widow, I have been seeing, finding, peeling away, the layers. 





- Some I want to hold on to, keep them close to my heart as treasures. 
- Some, I wish I could dig them out of my mind and heart and simply trash them! 

There are layers that make me laugh out loud, then those that make me smile a cheeky smile. 
There are the ones that make my tears flow hot, heavy and sticky - a literal ocean of tears! 
Then, the ones that make me in a reflective mood.


Aching for a place that is no longer. 
Layers that I want to share from the mountaintops - my website, Blog, Facebook. 
And layers that are for my heart alone - those that will go to the grave with me. 

I think that’s what this website is to be - 
- a place to peel away thru the layers. 
And a place to add layers on that grain of sand - Grief - that has gotten into my mind and heart, into my life. 

Early in my journey as a widow, I was drinking coffee one morning, and feeling the pearls that lay upon my neck. 

My name, Margaret, means “Pearl”. 
Rick said for all those years that I was his “pearl of great price”. 
That morning over coffee, I considered how a pearl is made. 
A grain of sand gets into the oyster. 
Then it irritates him, hurts him. 
Does he spit it out? 


He puts a layer around it to soften the presence. 
Time after time after time. 
Layer upon layer upon layer. 
With time, a pearl is formed. 

A realization then - if you cut a pearl open, what do you find? 
That grain of sand in the middle. 
The grain of sand was preserved. 

Not absorbed. 

It did not go away. 

It is not a stage. 
It is a life of layers. 
We find layers to put around the grief when it irritates, when it hurts. 
- reading a good book. 
- a cold drink, or a hot cup of coffee. 
- a chat with a friend. 
- time spent with family. 
- a long walk. 
- retail therapy. 
- a nap. 
We all have layers that mean the most in that moment of great grief. 

BUT - if you cut our hearts open, you find the grief remains. 

I think “layers” win over “stages”. 






Rick got my phone many years ago, and playing around with an app, left me this - I didn't find it until after he died. Sure was a special "layer" to my hurting heart. Still is.





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