Monday, September 14, 2015

The Seven Dwarves of Despair

Today I received an email from another grieving mom that I have come to know through the common bond of loss; whose son died five days after Brian, Kara and Paxton.  She has just come through not only her first year anniversary but her son's twenty-second birthday four days before.  She is in deep despair yet again.  She sent me this little excerpt from a book: The Art of Support: Reaching Out to Others in Times of Loss by Lee Franklin (Chapter Two)

The excerpt was called the Seven Dwarves of Despair.  I found it spot on and decided to include it here for obvious reasons.

Spacey - This dwarf moves in almost immediately, he causes difficulty in concentrating, emotional and mental numbness.  He is forever losing things, forgetting things - but his presence is protection from being overwhelmed with the reality of our loss.  The world is still moving rapidly, while the world of a griever is s-l-o-w and out of sync.

Empty - Focuses on the pain within - loss of purpose.  Why bother (with just about anything)? He usually shows up with his best friend, Lonely.
Lonely - Constant reminder that the world is missing a very important person and telling you that life will NEVER be the same - or even good again.  Anytime you go out, all you see is other families with the equivalent of who you lost.  A huge void is there and our task is to learn to re-engage in life with that huge, missing piece.
Guilty - You should have... Why didn't you...? This dwarf looks for someone to blame - and often results in self-blame (and reasons don't have to be and often are NOT rational).  We often blame ourselves for contributing to the loss; for not handling the grief "well" and for the effect our grief has on others - why should they want to be around us when we don't like our own company?  Oh, there is no shortage of guilt!
Worry - Loss triggers fear and anxiety.  Worry is an outward manifestation of fear.  Fretting, dreading, doubting and our minds playing "worst case scenario" of any and every situation is common.  It is a natural response to fear the unfamiliar - and the world has become extremely unfamiliar.  A feeling of abandonment is also common with this dwarf.
Angry - Often misunderstood and difficult to express, one may deny that anger exists.  Whether acknowledged or suppressed, anger is a powerful emotion - it needs to be expressed responsibly and respectfully.
and Gloomy - Very unpredictable - this dwarf is the first to come and the very last to leave.  We expect a certain amount of sadness with a loss; but the "trigger' that come at unexpected times can suddenly intensify the feelings to an overwhelming level.  Seeing an item in the grocery store, hearing a song, seeing an old email, or finding a piece of paper with their handwriting on it, can put us in an embarrassing predicament quickly.
These are just a small sampling of the crazy emotions that rule the life of a griever.  Trust me, there are hundreds more. 


  1. AndreA, I hope you don't mine, but I shared this post with my grief group " lost of a child" I though it may help someone.

  2. Nancy, I certainly do not mind. I put it here hoping it would help someone. So very glad you shared.