After Lucinda’s funeral and after the Mercy Meal in the Church hall, Fred drove home alone. The empty house screamed to him of Lucinda’s absence. Going into their bedroom he opened dresser drawers and held her items to his nose, desperate for her presence even if only in scent. Under some carefully folded slips Fred found a small cache of letters, carefully wrapped in red ribbon… his letters, the ones he had sent so often in their early years together. Shuffling through them he saw one with his father’s return address; he took out the letter and read that his father was calling an end to the affair that he and Lucinda had been having. Even stronger than the shock of their affair was Fred’s regret that he now knew of it, but you can’t un-ring a bell and he could not go back to the moment before he opened the letter and read it. Calmly he rose and picked up a lamp and threw it against the wall. And then a statue. Raging throughout the house like a hurricane of destruction he did a little redecorating!
So what do we do when life brings to us what we don’t want? A first reaction might be to smash things, but eventually you run out of lamps, statues and plates… so then what? It has been observed that there are 5 observable stages in loss and grieving: 1. Denial and Isolation, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining, 4. Depression, and 5. Acceptance. There is no set order to these stages, and some people move back and forth between stages before arriving at some level of acceptance. A death may bring about this process, but so too can the loss of a job, a child moving off to College, or even an unexpected and overdue bill arriving in the mail. How we arrive at acceptance will be as unique as each of us, but if we are to be happy then arrive at it we must since life brings to us what it must, and it doesn’t care how we feel about it.
Supposedly, the following conversation occurred between Queen Mary and a close friend who was also her Lady-in-Waiting as they were discussing the possible marriage between Elizabeth Bowles Lyon (the future Queen Mother) and Bertie, who upon his brother’s abdication became King George VI :
Lady-in-Waiting: “If she marries him she’d be the first commoner to marry into the Royal Family since… since…”
Queen Mary: “Since Anne Boleyn.”
Lady-in-Waiting: “Oh, well, that didn’t work out did it?”
Queen Mary: “My understanding is that until he had her beheaded the whole thing was a resounding success.”
By all accounts Anne Boleyn did not go to the axe screaming and flailing, which means that on some level she had come to an acceptance of the inevitable. What about us? Are we cultivating that ability in the small but annoying daily occurrences which constitute the ordinariness of our lives? Or do we still believe that, in the end, rage will conquer all? As the modern-day sage of our age, Dr. Phil, would say: “So, how’s that working out for you?”