After Nolan passed, I started noticing all sorts of weird changes in myself. We all know the stages of Grief;
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Every task takes longer to complete. This is probably because my mind is so unfocused.
- 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???)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.