The Five Stages of (Green) Grief
By: Amy Forstadt
When Benjie was born, he got one of those “lovie” things, which is a roll-your-eyes embarrassing word for what’s basically a small square of fabric with some sort of animal head attached to it. Benjie’s lovie was lime green, with a sloe-eyed, smiling frog head attached to one corner. I had read somewhere that if you gave your baby a “security object” (an only slightly less embarrassing, faux-scientific term) it would help him sleep at night without a parent, on vacations, and for babysitters. By now you all probably know how important sleep is to me (very), so I decided that this frog/fabric thing was it. I dubbed him Green Guy, set it in the crib next to infant Benjie, and a lifelong friendship was formed.
Or so I thought. Now, three and a half years later, after setting him in the crib over a thousand nights, schlepping him in the diaper bag, running back in to restaurants to fetch him, and a couple hundred spincycles, I’ve lost Green Guy. I have no idea how it happened. I grabbed him from Benjie’s cubby at preschool, put him in the car (I think), and haven’t seen him since.
Like anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one, I’ve experienced the five stages of grief.
Denial – At first I was like, well, he’s got to be somewhere! He can’t really be gone. I just saw him five minutes ago/yesterday/ last week. I scoured my car. I looked all over the street where I parked. I checked the darkest, dirtiest corners of Benjie’s preschool parking lot. I looked in pockets of jackets I definitely hadn’t worn that day. I checked the preschool lost and found. I asked the maintenance man, teachers, receptionist, other parents, and my neighbors. No one had seen Green Guy.
Anger – At myself, of course. How could I be so stupid to lose Green Guy? What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just pay attention? What deep-seated childhood trauma leads me to screw up every good relationship in my life? Maybe I just drove Green Guy away with my neediness. Any way I sliced it, it was all my fault.
Bargaining – My mother-in-law, the original giver of Green Guy, offered to buy Benjie a new one, and even had it overnighted from Amazon. (The woman is a saint.) I agreed, because I was positive that the second we got the new Green Guy, the old one would show up. It seemed like a sure thing.
Depression – But Green Guy II arrived and the original Green Guy was still nowhere. I tried to be grateful, I really did. But it was all I could do not to look at the grinning face of that interloper and wail, “It’s not the same! He’s not the REAL Green Guy!” throw him across the room, and stomp off in tears.
Acceptance – Green Guy isn’t coming back. I’ve accepted that I’m not going to find him, even if I do still occasionally check out the corners of closets and backs of cabinets. I realize that these things happen and it’s not the end of the world.
Some (or all) of you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Benjie at all throughout the Green Guy Ordeal of ’10. That’s because the kid was fine. He took it much better than I did. Sure he missed Green Guy at the beginning, but he was pretty psyched to get a new one. And he’s promoted Sharky to First Guy status, so it really was an opportunity for advancement among the other stuffed animals. I’m trying to take a lesson from this very adaptable and well-adjusted three-year-old of mine. Losing Green Guy doesn’t mean I’m a terrible parent, or even that it won’t happen again sometime. I just have to face it, accept it, make adjustments, and move on. It’s all part of growing up. For me.