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Lion King is often lauded as one of Disney’s Best Classics. It has managed to capture many themes such as parenting, the influence of fathers being in the lives of children, minority groups, communal living and crime. However  it has manged to explore those themes with such delicacy, simplicity and a bit of humor. The music, composed by the great Hans Zimmer are remarkable and has manged to capture the hearts of the mature and those who were maybe too young to understand the intricacies of the movie.

I watched Lion King I, 1 1/2 and II, like any true enthusiast, even though I was a young child. There was one particular scene which has etched a permanent picture on my mind. It showed young Simba looking at his dead father on the floor and a voice boomed, “He is dead… Run!” Those words really stuck with me until today and I never re watch movies- so this post is being written from over 10 years of memory. The young Simba was forced to just deal with the sudden death of his beloved father, not even a chance to properly mourn.

I remember last year when my step-dad died in the arms my little brother, just moments after he fainted in mine. It was rather sudden, as he wasn’t really ill. Well, my Grandmother, my Aunt and of course my little brother wept… It was a natural response to cry when one is hurt. On the contrary, until this day I haven’t shed a tear, for someone I loved so dearly. I almost cried at the funeral when I said goodbye but that was it.

I remember when I was very young and my only uncle had died violently, my mother said a few words to me, which has influenced how I deal with death. She told me that I should think of my uncle as going to a far country, one where is no access to phone really and because it’s that far, I may not see him again but I should remember that he loves me.

Some many years later, this is how I deal with death. I was described as Schizoid by persons with little Psychology knowledge, because they thought not crying showed a lack of emotion and I was told that that was just plain weird by people I can assure you know nothing about Psychology. They told me it wasn’t  healthy to rationalize it like that and move on…

But guess what? That’s what Simba had to do. He was young and in danger when his dad died. His energies had to be channeled elsewhere for his own survival. When he got a chance, he cried and accepted the fact that life goes on and that his father’s love and memory will always be treasured. Young Simba showed us that we can’t blame ourselves for what happened, because sometimes we just couldn’t help, sometimes it was just not possible to pay that last visit, to put ourselves in their space.. or to simply say goodbye. It also highlighted that grieving has to deal with much more than death, as Simba was getting depressed when he thought he would have to leave Timon and Pumba behind. We grieve once we lose something or someone, we believe is of importance to us. Giving away a favourite toy, failing CXC Math, getting a Upper Second Class Honours when we thought we were really good- we mourn for the loss of the first class! Migrating friends or even moving to a new community warrant some amount of grief.

In school I learned that there is no wrong or right way to grieve, unless the intense grief period exceeds 8 months. I was introduced to the Kubler Ross Model which explains the processes we go through when we grieve.

This Model highlights five stages and it allows for individuality,  although we all go through these stages, we may do them in different orders and whichever way we do it is acceptable.

1. Denial – In Simba’s case he saw his dad fall from the Pride Rock and somewhere in his little head he know he was gone. However, when it just happened and due to it’s sudden nature he was in denial, telling his dad to wake up. This is the point where us as humans start saying maybe they are in a coma, or maybe it’s not them or maybe a flat line doesn’t mean loss of life after all.

2. Anger– Simba also went through this stage. He was angry that his dad had left him while he was still so young. He was furious, because now he had no one to teach him to be a man as his uncle had long gone rouge and was enraged as his dad had made him  a promise to always be there for him. This anger is normally directed at the unfulfilled goals we had and the many things we had to do which never got done.

3. Bargaining- Poor Simba had no time to bargain, he had to jump straight to depression. For those of us who believe in a Supreme Being, even when the relationships is on the rocks, we usually go into their presence a lot. We often say things like, “God, if you make him live, I’m gonna give a lot of offering and I’ll be at church every Sunday rain or shine.” In reality, maybe we wouldn’t, but this stage is filled with reflection and anticipation which can be very difficult.

4. Depression –  This is usually the time when we sit, usually in solitude and reflect. We usually think about the good moments that that person or event had in our lives and how life will now be difficult to continue without them. We usually find that our appetites wane, sometimes we wish that we had taken their place instead, we get too much or too little sleep and the doom of time just falls down on us.

5. Acceptance- This is the stage when we realize that there isn’t much that can be done, as the situation has already unfolded. It is time that we appreciate the times we spend together and urge ourselves to continue to make the proud. We also realize that our emotions are normal and seek to get help to bring us through these trying times. We rely on other close friends, family , therapists and Simba’s case… kind strangers.

Think about it, loss is an inevitable part of live and though it may be hard, others have gone through it and have become stronger.

If you are experiencing loss, just try and talk to someone about it, it will aid your healing process and allow you to manoeuvre these 5 stages more smoothly.

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