Things I’ve Learned about Grief

grief

After Nolan passed, I started noticing all sorts of weird changes in myself. We all know the stages of Grief;

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

What I felt didn’t always fit neatly into one of those boxes. It still doesn’t. Grief is also not so easily navigated through one phase to the next. You might typically start with Denial, which I absolutely did and still deal with, but the process is more circular and winding back in on itself all over the place. I’ve spent a great deal of time with Denial, starting from the moment Nolan lost consciousness. I Bargained my way through the next two days he spent on life support. I haven’t hit Anger yet, or at least full force. I’m not an angry person, so maybe I won’t. There was a period, and my Darling Husband might say I’m still in it, where I snapped at him unwittingly. I wasn’t angry at him, but I suppose I had a very short fuse and my compassion took a hiatus.

So, I had all these feelings and odd things going on and I decided to write them down. I left the list on my kitchen table for DH to add to, but he never did. Writing has been my thing, not his, so I understand. I was hoping, however, that it would bring us some common understanding of where we each were. We are polar opposites and having vastly different experiences in dealing with Grief. I can’t speak for him, so these are the things I’ve noticed in me.

  1.  It’s completely and utterly overwhelmingly exhausting. The simple act of opening my eyes feels like too much of an effort. Simply taking one breath after the next is a monumental task.
  2. My mind has become unfocused. It’s impossible to think about any one thing for any length of time. Wandering aimlessly from room to room has become a regular thing.
  3. Every task takes longer to complete. This is probably because my mind is so unfocused.
  4. Food tastes different. It’s like everything has lost its flavor. Life has become bland. (Side-note on this: I have seen people in Grief lose lots of weight very quickly. Me? I eat next to nothing and haven’t lost an ounce. Where is that Death Diet??? Can I not get at least one little bit of  help here???)
  5. This should probably be number 1, but it was number 5 in my notebook and I am copying verbatim. MY LIFE IMMEDIATELY DIVIDES INTO “BEFORE” AND “SINCE.” I capped all that on purpose. A long, deep, dark divide has crossed my path. No matter what comes next, every single thing will be either “Before” or “Since” I lost my son.
  6. Grieving differently than my spouse is very lonely. I need quiet and solitude. DH needs to be even busier than “Before.” Nobody else in the world has the same pain as the two of us. Dealing with it in opposite ways makes it so that we are not sharing. We are not going through this together. We are grieving alone even in the same room. I fear the chasm this has started to create. In all honesty, my marriage was in rocky shape “Before.” The statistics on a marriage surviving the loss of a child are not encouraging. This scares me.
  7. Long car rides are a really, really, REALLY bad idea. There is just too much time to get lost in my thoughts. Those thoughts are never good. Down the rabbit hole you go.

I’ve learned from a class in Bereavement that at the moment of Trauma (yes, it deserves a capital T), more than 100 chemicals and hormones flood into your body to absorb part of the impact. That’s what triggers Denial. It will literally save your life because your body could not handle the full impact of the Trauma. I have to agree. I know I couldn’t handle it. Still can’t. Anyway, it can take 3 to 4 MONTHS for your body to BEGIN to process through all those lovely little helpers. You will likely stay a little numb or in Denial during those months. It is approaching the 3 month mark “Since.” I think about that and go blank. Thank you Denial. It seems we aren’t done with each other quite yet.

13 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned about Grief”

  1. Wow, I am in trouble, if this ever happens to me. You are a well spring, from which love flows. Stay the course, because this is a Natural Experience, and some of us are hard wired to feel more than others. Keep doing what your Heart tells you to do.

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  2. Amy – I can’t understand your pain, but I worry about it for you and Ray. I worry about the trauma of it on your marriage. I hope you two can connect even while dealing with this in your different ways.

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  3. Nothing to be scared of, I’m not going anywhere! We have always been there for each other and overcome anything which life has thrown at us. We will get through this, the best we can, together. I love you! ~DH

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  4. I am so proud that you went through with creating a blog about your process. It will help you move through things and give you an outlet in which you will really feel like Spirit is listening to you. Keep writing and watch the healing take place and the magic unfold… I miss him very much and I think of you and Dad often. The more creative things we accomplish (each in our own way), the closer we will be with Nolan.

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  5. You don’t know me, but my daughter was a few years ahead of your son. Almost three years ago my husband, her father committed suicide. It was a very hard on my daughter who was 13 at the time and is my only child. We leaned on each other and she pushed me away too. Things will get better. She knows that pushing me away isn’t what she needs. We have become closer than anyone ever could. Don’t give up. Never give up. Find things that make you happy together. You need each other more now then ever, but don’t forget your other children. They don’t need to suffer either. Involve friends family coworkers ect. Do the things you always loved. Find each other and yourselves too.

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    1. OMGosh. Thank you for sharing your story with me, with all of us. I am so terribly sorry for the loss you suffered as well. Your daughter is lucky to have your strength and determination to see that she stays close to you. It is hard sometimes to focus on the children left behind and how they are suffering as well. Your heartfelt reminder is very timely. My kids thank you 🙂

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  6. Amy I am still so heartbroken for you and your family. I hope that finding a creative and honest outlet like this will help you (and others!). You have a fighting soul. Sending hugs.

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  7. Thank you for sharing my friend. I could say all the things that I should say but nothing seems like the right thing to say. I’m looking out the window right now… Wishing Nolan to give you a sign.. Something …anything…I love you….love all of you. I don’t think I could be as strong as you. I am in awe. ❤

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