The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 12, Dr. Reichmann

“What is this – a bad joke? Who the hell do you people think you are? Did Joanne put you up to this – get back at me for sleeping at the office? Or the both of them together, for Christ’s sakes. I just saw each of them Friday…” He sat down in his chair, hard.

“I’m terribly sorry to be the one to break it to you, Dr. Reichmann. My sincerest condolences. If there is anything I – we,” he waved his hand to indicate the other two in the room, “can do, please don’t hesitate to ask. Here’s my card.” The big man handed him a card. It looked official. Fred stared at it awhile, but nothing had meaning at the moment. It just lay there, dormant between his fingers. He knew it was supposed to have meaning, had just been told what it was as a matter of fact but, for the life of him he couldn’t remember what it represented. Why he was holding it? What – if anything – he was supposed to do with it?

Shock, that’s what this is. His mind refused to keep quiet, kept talking to him as he stared at the card, occasionally looking up at the three figures standing before of him. So far, only the big one had spoken. He seemed uncomfortable, nervous, out of his element, looking to the others for direction. Funny how the mind works, slowing things down in times of crises to better select the appropriate course of action, summon the survival instinct.

Although utterly confused, each of his senses felt hyper-aware – so much so, he could study the facial expressions, the body language, even the voice inflections of the people surrounding him – including himself. This was his area of specialty of course, a lifetime of research and practice in these disciplines. He would have to store this information and go over it later, figure out what it all meant – when he wasn’t in shock that is. “I’m sorry. I must have missed that. Why are you here again?” He knew it was important, though it seemed to have slipped from his grasp in the excitement. He looked at the three visitors in anticipation.

The big cop was doubly nervous now, his head on a swivel between the other two, searching for guidance.

A little-red-headed woman stepped forward this time. She seemed nice, very pretty too. Fred smiled at her. She reached out to shake his hand. “Dr. Reichmann, my name is Assistant District Attorney, Chloe Blantyre-Tattershall. I wish we were meeting under better circumstances than the present.” Her hand remained outstretched.

He looked down, noticed the card still balanced between his two hands and realized he’d none free. He looked back up towards her, hoped she could read the apology held in his eyes.

She waited, hand steady, extended, then withdrew it. “As the Lieutenant explained – your wife, Mrs. Joanne Reichmann and your secretary, Miss Debbie Wilkinson, have been murdered. I’m sorry to be the bearer of such grievous news, Doctor. Please accept our deepest sympathies’.” Her voice was kind, the Boston accent thick. She added, “Where have you been for the weekend Doctor – since Friday afternoon?”

She’d asked a question. He knew she had. What was it? Oh, right, right, “I have been here… at my office.” He looked at her, puzzled. “Why do you ask?”

“So you have not been home then?”

“Not at all. Why? What are you saying?”

“Nothing Doctor, nothing at all. I was just wondering if you’d seen anything, you know – strange – to help us figure this thing out?”

He shook his head, negative. “I’m sorry, but no.” He looked back up at her, back up from the card. “You’re saying… my wife? And Debbie? They’re both dead? Are you sure?” He knew this was important but for the life of him he just couldn’t put his finger on it. What does it mean?

“Yes, Doctor. My name is Dr. Alexander. I’ve been called in as a special advisor to this case. If you need to talk to someone, to grieve, or just want a sympathetic ear – we are available if you need us. I’ve more than enough time if you need someone to listen.” He too handed him a card, held it out for a while then placed it upon his desk.

Fred looked around at all of them then to each one in turn, they all seemed nice. “What am I to do now?” he asked. “Who will tell me about my day? What to do?” They just stared at him, no answers. He gathered himself, his professionalism kicking in. He understood he was in shock and that once he recovered from it he would grieve, go through each of the five stages in due course but not right now, right now he was still a doctor. “I am sorry. I apologize for my… confusion, to all of you and I thank you for coming down here, but I must ask you to leave. I have another patient arriving for a session at any moment and I must pull myself together – if I can – if I’m to give him my full attention. You do understand I hope? There will be plenty of time, a lifetime for me to deal with my own loss and the issues it brings.” He stood and walked towards the door to see them out. They each looked rather stunned, though made no fuss and left him to his own thoughts and the wave of emotion he knew was fast on its way.

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