People who haven't been through grief often believe that grief is a linear process. They may have heard of the Kübler-Ross grief model or similar, which look at stages of grief, and think that this is how it works for everyone.
Grief really isn't linear. We bounce backwards and forwards through different stages, with triggers such as anniversaries, places, objects or pieces of music sending us one way and another. Margaret Baier and Ruth Buechsel likened this to a pinball machine, where the paddles flip the ball back and forth, sometimes right back to the beginning of the game.
This model has helped me understand why sometimes I am thrown back into feelings of sadness and loss, seemingly out of the blue. It also supports something I learned with the growing around grief and Kintsugi concepts – that we carry our grief with us and it becomes part of who we are. As Baier said, "One of the most freeing aspects of this model is the notion that grief is never complete."
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I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.