In my work with patients of all backgrounds, I’ve noted there are seven stages of grief. You may recognize five of these stages from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ groundbreaking work in the 1960s. But I’ve noted two other distinct stages in the grieving process: fear and forgetfulness, which tend to bookend Kubler-Ross’ stages.
Kubler-Ross and I agree that we all take our own path through the stages of grief. Some of us skip stages, some of us go through them in a different order. The accepted order is merely the one that is most common.
Considering how long ago most of the alleged Cosby incidents took place, we could safely assume that the majority of the victims are in what I have identified to be the forgetfulness phase. None of us every completely forgets the incident that caused us to grieve in the first place. But when you’ve arrived at the forgetfulness phase, your loss is not the first thing in your mind when you get out of bed in the morning. Every action of your day isn’t a reminder of the gaping hole you once felt in your gut but which is now beginning to fill itself in, little by little.
These women, Cosby’s alleged victims, are willingly reopening long-closed wounds, which means many of them will be revisiting some of these grief stages. Imagine breaking a bone and then willingly snapping it again after months of healing. That’s pretty much what these women have chosen to do: Relive pain that they had already gotten over. And they’re doing it to help not only themselves but also to help others, mere strangers.
By speaking up — and thus revisiting the grief they’d either conquered or packed safely away — they are letting the other alleged victims know that they have their backs, that they are not alone in this fight, which can so often go badly for women who speak out against famous or powerful men.
I admire their bravery. I salute these women, and all other victims who stand up against their attackers. May your journey on this difficult road help you to finally put to rest the grief I know has consumed you over the past several decades.