In her 1969 book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross proposed five stages of normal grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We can experience the stages differently in terms of order, duration, and intensity, as well as repeat one or more. And the stages aren’t limited to a death; any kind of loss can trigger grief.
A few days after I returned to Budapest and my burglarized flat, I realized a tiny but very special box of pendants and two necklaces had been stolen. I hadn’t looked for them initially because in the fog of jet lag and the break in, I had assumed they were with me. In fact, as the fog slowly lifted, each new day brought the realization of one or two more items taken, from an unused internet router to my two canvas bags I used for the market.
The culmination, so to speak, was the jewelry. The most important piece was a small engraved locket given to me by my parents for high school graduation that had a picture of my Honey Grandma in it. It was a picture from a local newspaper article about her long-time volunteering activities.
Once I realized the box was missing, the whole experience came crashing down on me. Unfortunately, the tears came at work, which was an unwelcome yet uncontrollable phenomenon.
At first, I seemed to take things hour by hour. Now it’s more like day by day. Progress. It’s the same with sleep. I wasn’t getting much at first, but each night gets a little better. It helps that I’m getting used to the regular city sounds again.
Caffeine, once boycotted except for emergencies, has re-entered my life on a more regular basis. I also decided that hindsight is not my friend, and he is not welcome in my life. Lessons learned, on the other hand, can stay.
In the meantime, I have a new alarm clock, hair dryer, and bar lock on the door. Each replacement helps return life closer to normal, or at least a new normal. I’m waiting to hear if my landlord will install a “jail door”—basically a barred version of a screen door. If not, I will probably move.
For those who wonder, the police took fingerprints and wrote a report. I’m told that’s as far as it will go. And insurance is totally different here. Plus, the things that matter can’t be replaced anyway.
In the end, no one has died, and I’m physically fine. Important things to remember. I’m also reminded of wisdom I believe my mom shared with me long ago: when you’re feeling down, it’s good to do things for others. I’m working on that.
I don’t know if I’m really moving through the stages of grief, but I know I’m making progress. And that’s the right direction.