This post was originally posted on The Sullengers on October 24, 2012.

Before losing Preslee, I had very little experience with grief and had never heard anyone talk about it. Now, two years after losing my daughter, and experiencing it for myself, I have a better understanding of what grief really is. Though I'm still trying to sort through the many different emotions which grief entails, I've learned when I am able to recognize what is creating my anxiety or sorrow, moving forward becomes a little easier.

Experts teach there are five main stages of grief and loss, which are: 

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression 
  • acceptance 
in no defined sequence or timeline. In my opinion there are a million other stages, and not every one experiences them all. But experts agree these five emotions seem to be most common. Looking back, it seems like I experienced each one at different times, and some more than others.
I was clearly in denial during the viewing/funeral. I was numb, and in shock. Looking back, I honestly couldn't grasp the concept that my only child was gone, and never coming back. Funeral arrangements left us extremely busy, and I totally shut my feelings out.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler teach, "Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us pace our feelings of grief. There is grace in denial. It is nature's way of letting in only as much as we can handle. (Kessler) The more I studied denial, the more I became grateful that it's part of the grieving process.

It wasn't too long after the funeral that my mom and I visited my Grandparent's house to work on family history. I thought it would be a great way to fill my time before school started. I remember logging on to and being shocked/upset seeing Preslee's name had already been added, with her birth and death date written below. I still remember the feeling, and looking back, I'm pretty sure I had an anxiety attack. I immediately excused myself to the bathroom and lost it.

My denial period was over.

My daughter's name was on a site, with millions of other people who were...dead. Anyone in the world could look at Preslee's name, and all they would see was her birth and death date. They wouldn't know she loved necklaces, dried blueberries, or how she was the center of my universe. They would only know she died. It was an extremely painful concept to digest. And while writing this, I've come to realize that is why I haven't logged back on to work on family history since.

I have heard of many deaths over the past two years, and I often hear people talking about the grieving family. Neighbors/friends often make comments similar to, "The parents seem to be in denial, when are they going to realize..." or "Someone needs to help them realize..." Now, when I recognize someone is in denial, I just hug them, because I know the journey that lays ahead of them. Looking back, the denial period of my grief was a blessing. It really was a slow way of letting the pain sink in. When it finally hit that Preslee was gone, and never coming back, the pain was unbearable and indescribable. Nothing could have prepared me for it.

My denial period may have only lasted a week or two, and it may last longer for others. But, be gentle with those you know experiencing denial. 

I really believe there is grace in denial.

Kessler, David. "The Five Stages of Grief." N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sep 2012.

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