The 5 Stages of Bedtime Grief


It happens this way every time. It is inevitable… like seeing a dark, threatening funnel cloud approaching, knowing with certainty there is danger coming. Every night at bedtime there is a process for my younger son. It is his way of coping with the grief that accompanies bedtime. This is how it goes. IMG_4446.JPG

Stage 1: Denial and Isolation

This follows my first suggestion of “Tell Daddy and Bubba goodnight. Let’s go read.” First response (as is with everything else)… “NO!” That’s the denial part. Then there is the isolation: hiding behind the couch… hiding in the kitchen… hiding under the covers of his own bed, which is at least helpful in that he’s actually in the bed, which is the ultimate goal.

Stage 2: Anger

Anger because he can’t have apple juice; anger because Mommy dares deny him the right to reading all of the six books that he’s carefully slung onto his bed and instead reads only two; anger because the night light is green not blue and then again because Mommy switched it to blue when he’d obviously just been kidding about wanting it blue; anger because Bubba is not in bed like Mommy said he was, which is obvious when we hear Bubba making fart noises in the living room with daddy; anger because he can’t see the moon out of his bedside window; anger because none of his demands seem to be working…

Stage 3: Bargaining

No more anger… now it’s time for sweet Kody to make his appearance. “Kiss Mommy? Hug Mommy? Nose kisses?  Pease more book? Pease more kisses? Pease get up? Mommy pease? Kody nice…” All accompanied with the most pitiful little face you’ve ever seen. Then “More kiss Mommy?” “Love you Mommy… get up right now? Pease?”

Stage 4: Depression

This is the part where he finally begins the descent. He lies down, covers up, and turns over so I can’t see him. He doesn’t want to talk anymore. He doesn’t want anymore water. He doesn’t see a point in even trying anymore. He’s fought the good fight. His final words in this stage are “Sing sunshine, Mommy.” I tell him he has to close his eyes for me to sing (one of my sneakier tricks). When he does, he begins stage 5.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Silence other than soft breathing. Nobody say a word. Somebody tell James to stop making fart noises… good night my sweet son.


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