The Non-Existent Stages of Grief: The Complexity of Losing Someone

My mom died when I was eight and died again six years later when I was 14. She died before I even knew what death was; it never occured to me that one day she wouldn’t be here. Grief doesn’t get better, in fact, it gets worse, way worse. The grieving process changes and it becomes easier in the way that you may not cry every minute of the day, but it never truly gets better. I know the seven stages of grief so well that I recite them and their specific meanings. However, despite all my restless nights and even more dreaded days, I never experienced the last stage, acceptance. 

Losing someone at a young age is a difficult thing; I felt the pain that the loss had brought me, however my young brain couldn’t fully conceptualize it, leaving a dreadful time in future for when I actually did. 14 years old is when it truly hit me that I will never, in any world, space or time see my mom again. With the rush of beginning highschool and my childhood slipping out of my fingers, I was asking myself so many questions. Questions that I never even thought to wonder about appeared, and all of the answers to previous questions I thought I had were wrong. I hated my younger self for not doing anything, as if I even could, and I hated my present self for not remembering my last words to her. It felt like I was experiencing her death again, only this time it almost felt worse. Crying over my mom felt tired and pointless; I wasn’t at the age where I could run to my dad crying like a baby, it wasn’t cute or endearing when I cried anymore, now it was annoying and overgrown. At 18, as I was going into college, I felt the same way; I was once again experiencing a stage in my life where all I needed was my 


Coming to college has affected me in more ways that I’m proud to admit. I am everything that I hoped I wouldn’t be. I’m lost, scared, dejected and amidst of all these feelings, I can’t help but wonder if everything would be okay if I just had my mom. In some crazy part of my mind, I think that someday I will. Somewhere deep, deep in the trenches of my brain, this is all a nightmare, a nightmare that I will wake up from and be gently consoled back to sleep in the embrace of my mother’s arms. Obviously, I know that’s not true and I sound like a pathetic grown child who never got over her mom’s death ­— which I suppose I am. 

The best way to explain my grieving process as of now is when you’re in eighth grade and have to read a chapter of “Romeo and Juliet” but you didn’t do the reading and now you’re so incredibly behind and how are you ever going to catch up when your teacher is talking about poison and death and the last time you read they were at a ball? As class is almost over, you think you made it because she never called on you to answer a question, but then five minutes before the bell rings, you hear your name and are greeted with a dozen turning heads. She asks you the question, one in which you can’t even hear since the kid next to you is chewing gum so loud that you think your head will explode. All eyes are on you and all you want to do is crawl up in embarrassment because how did everyone else get so far while you’re still on Act One? 

The other night, I saw a video of a grandmother greeting her grandchild and the smiles on both of their faces along with the mothers giggles from behind the camera. I mean you could have practically felt the love through the screen. It was an adorably cute video and yet I was overcome with a wave of immense sadness. I realized my mom was never a grandmother nor will she ever get to be one. Every time I experience something new or realize that one day I will eventually — most likely — get married, have kids, and do whatever else, my mom won’t be there for it, and it’s in moments like these that she dies again. With every memory I gain, I lose a little bit of it as well in which it’ll never truly be mine without my mom knowing it. How am I supposed to move on and grow up when I not only grieve the loss of my mom but also the loss of the life she wanted and could have had? It kills me that I couldn’t help or take any of the pain away, it kills me even more the thought of the life she had ahead of her. It consumes my every thought, even eating away at my own life it seems. 

I’m in college, I’m 18, and yet it seems as if I never grew up. I’m still that eight-year-old child and it feels like I forever will be. It’s been 10 years; I should be better and yet I’m not. Everyone says that you get over it, but I’m not sure if you do. I don’t know how to get over something when every day I discover something else to grieve over. I cry for my dad who lost his wife, my grandparents who lost their daughter, my siblings who lost their mom and my mom who lost her future. 

I tell myself I don’t need to be better, that how I feel is okay ­­­­— and maybe it is or maybe I just need a therapist; I’m not quite sure. I know that grief shouldn’t be boiled down to seven steps, that’s too simple for such complex emotions. Grief is not something that magically goes away, it stays with you because for whatever unfortunate reason the person you lost cannot.