Stages of Grief: Storm Edition

fallen trees, Pollarding, Hurricane Sandy, trees, chain sawLisa writes: Lest you think we are obsessed with Sandy, and its dire aftermath, let me assure you that we are. Obsession is the final stage reached before the electric power is restored, and with it, our normal lives. For those of us just north of NYC this is the third time in just over a year that we have had a weather wipe-out and lost all of our utilities.   We now recognize obsession as one of the classic and final stages of grief (storm-wise) as we try to will the Con Edison trucks to head to our neighborhoods.

Stages of grief during Sandy

Anticipation, it’s coming. How big and how bad are the only questions unanswered. Preparation begins and with it a frenetic blur of activity.  Anticipation is the nexus where dread and excitement cross paths.

Soon, though, there is just dread. Will the power go out? Will there be work or school, property damage or worse?  It is the, “or worse” that takes us straight into the next stage.

roof, shingles fallen off, storm damageFear descends with the darkness as the wind, snow, ice or rain lash at our windows and doors. Even the bravest among us realizes the sheer destructive power of mother nature and fears her wrath. The churning fury outside seems to last longer and sound worse than anyone dared imagine.

And then the worst is over and there are floods of relief. There will be terrible, heartbreaking stories, and even the least religious in our midst will know that grace and good fortune have shone upon us.  We are overcome with gratitude, for our safety, for the morning sunshine, for our homes and the new day.

 power lines down, power lines, electricity damageThe roads are blocked and trees and power lines strewn about like a toddler’s toys. Discovering our little world remade, helping a neighbor and locating a cup of coffee are, for a few hours, an adventure. Finding out where the power works and what is the most optimistic timetable for repairs, for a moment, all seem novel.

But this will not last and soon, we realize the day is lost, or maybe a few days or the week. Nothing is going to happen. Plans are changed then cancelled, productivity grinds to a halt. It is an irritation and then an annoyance. Giving into nothingness is not easy.

Day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4: no longer amusing. Con Ed says Monday but a neighbor saw them working on the power lines. There is no gas and firewood stores are low. The night-time temperatures are in the 30’s. Day 5, day 6 tempers fray, kids are bored, adults fed up as frustration and helplessness descend.trampoline in pond, wind blown

Sitting in Starbucks for wi-fi, obsessing over the Con Ed site. Maybe the school district has more up-to-date information or the Patch. We wake up thinking today will be The Day.

Eventually, at an unexpected time, random lights around the house go on, often in the closet where we never overcame our instinct of reaching for the switch. Perhaps the TV shakes off its hibernation.  Soon we take the deep cleansing breath and revisit relief, this time for good.




We are gradually getting our lives back to normal but for many in our area the struggle is desperate and the grief is immense.  Cool Mom Picks suggests a number of ways for us to help.



  1. says

    Isn’t it all so surreal? This storm has really taken its toll. So scary, so unfortunate that so many are suffering. The long-term ramifications are troubling, to say the least, as are the range of emotions running wild.

  2. Risa says

    You’re in my thoughts. I know how tough it is to feel that frustration on top of everything else. Being strong for the young kids presents additional challenges. They (and we) long to have someone in charge to “fix it” as soon as possible. Hard to be out of control. And isn’t it true what they say: “Mother Nature bats last”?

    • says

      Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. Internet was the last thing restored…though it might have been what we missed most, after heat. Love that saying about mother nature, I have never heard it before but have a feeling I will be using it.

  3. says

    Glad to hear your power has been restored. Perhaps you should ask Santa for a generator for Christmas.

    I obsess long distance about my mom losing power, beginning before the storm. Her area was not hard hit with this storm, but my prayers are with those who were.

    • says

      Think you are right about the generator, this is becoming a bit of a habit around here. We live in a heavily wooded area so it does not take much to lose power. Hope your mom is okay.

  4. says

    Such an experience for you. You and all dealing with the mess are in my thoughts daily, sometimes hourly. I hope you’re not in the path of the snow on its way. This line says it all, I think, at least from my view: ‘Giving into nothingness is not easy.’ Thankful your power is back on. Good luck, my friend.

  5. says

    It’s like living in limbo, isn’t it? When these things happen, nothing seems like it will ever be normal again. So glad you are all safe and sound – if a little worse for wear.

    • says

      Thanks, Sharon. Back at Starbucks looking at the weather report…I might have to move back to CA.

  6. says

    I love how you came up with the stages/levels. I hope relief stays in your home forever :)

  7. says

    I think it’s a wake up call to all of us who haven’t experienced anything like that, maybe we should be prepared and try to be more self reliant, and yes, get a generator! Hope the worst is over for you and everyone else.

  8. Jane de Beneducci says

    We are with you in your grief. I live in the UK and we are tucked up safe and sound, warm and dry with heat and aga on, looking at the pictures and trying to get our heads around all the damage you have suffered and what it must be like for you guys to be without power for so many days. You are in our thoughts and our hopes that all will be returning to some normality soon. Meanwhile we are glued to your presidential election!
    P.s can someone explain it to us Brits, we never quite get how it works….

    • says

      Our elections would take more than this little space to explain…think I might have to pop across the pond to try to make some sense of it for you.

  9. happyoutlook says

    Great post! You’re so right on target with the stages of storm grief. With another storm on the way, I’m wondering how many times you can circle through the same stages? The aftermath of this storm has definitely made me appreciate many of the things that I have normally taken for granted…trying to focus on the positive!

  10. says

    Glad to hear you are all safe and sound if a little frustrated ! I hope things return to some sort of normalacy for you soon !
    Thinking of you and sending lots of positive energy !

  11. says

    i’m glad you’re safe and sound. it’s a hard thing to go through – especially this time of year when it’s cold. having survived 10 days with no heat or hot water after a February nor’easter, with 2 feet of water in my cellar, i understand all the stages, especially the sense of gratitude and good fortune when you see that others suffered so much more than i did.

  12. Crystal says

    You are sure right on the stages of emotion. Up here in Maine, we managed to escape most of it. All of my co-workers in NYC were not so lucky. One lost everything – home was engulfed with water. Glad your power is back on. Hope there are only brighter days ahead. :)


  13. Alison says

    So sorry that you and your family, and countless others had to go through this. Stay safe and warm!

  14. says

    Wow. Those pictures are something. I’m a Hurricane Katrina survivor, 16 miles north as the crow flies from where Katrina made landfall. I lost a section of roof, a barn and my John Deere and 9 old growth pine trees. Oh that just hurt, thinking about that John Deere. But, the sun does shine again and my insurance company lived up to its promise and now, I have a new John Deere. All is good – happy ending.

    In the recent New Yorker magazine I saw a cartoon that cracked me up. Husband and wife are standing in three feet of water in their living room and husband says, “If they want us to take these storms more seriously, they need to give them scarier names.”

    (Found you at Main Street Musings)

  15. says

    Hello! Somehow I missed this when you first posted it…I think my WordPress Reader is broken. :(
    Having lived through several disasters like this, I completely agree with your analysis!

  16. says

    SO glad you found us. Things are still a bit of a mess around here but it seems like most people are getting their power back and that is something to be very thankful for.


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