Grief: Loose Cannon on Deck

A loose cannon conjures images of a weapon wildly firing in all directions, but it actually refers to a cannon on the deck of a ship. Cannons needed to be lashed down, but in turbulent waters, cannons sometimes came loose and rolled around the deck. Their great weight (some weighed as much as 1800 lbs!) made those loose cannons a dangerous liability and they could crush a hapless sailor who got in the way.

That’s exactly the way grief feels. Every time you feel as if you’re getting a solid footing despite the turbulence of your new life, whack! That cannon comes loose and crushes you again.

It would be so much easier if the so-called stages of grief were actually stages that you can check off after you’ve experienced it. Denial. Check. Pain. Check. Anger. Check. Depression. Check. Acceptance. Check.

All done, right?


After you’ve gone through the list, there it comes again, the pain or the anger or the disbelief that he is gone, and you have to do it all over again. Add to that the innumerable stages that aren’t commonly known such as isolation, anxiety, low self-esteem, confusion, panic, frustration, hopelessness, loneliness, bitterness, missing the person, fretfulness, hanging on, waiting for you know not what, and dozens of others. Not everyone who has experienced a significant loss goes through all the stages, but no matter what, we’ve all felt that loose cannon and wish we could just tie the dang thing up and get on with our lives.

So we do.

And then, comes another storm, there’s that loose cannon again.

Can you sense the pettishness of my tone? Must be another stage I’ve never heard of. Well, check this one off, too.