I am finding out what it means to be a writer. Sometimes, I have been concerned that something could be wrong with me. Since I am trying to incorporate positive thinking into every phase of my life, I don’t really want to go there. However, since I’ve seen so many psychiatrists for my children, I am no stranger to the symptoms for many disorders.
Mania does come to mind. One of the most frequent questions the psychiatrist always asks is, “How are you sleeping?” Right now, I am not sleeping well; I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, because I don’t feel tired. I have more energy than I’ve ever had in a very long time.
My mother-in-law died recently, and I realize that I have not yet begun to mourn her absence. I’m sure I will as time goes on. When I was suffering so much with Jason, she described the “mania” she experienced in her life with me. She told me, “You feel like you are invincible, and you are bursting with creativity that has you feeling like you are unstoppable.”
Unfortunately, at that time I was not creative; I was on autopilot. I was searching constantly for answers to help my son. I was certainly not invincible. She described the depression part to me during the deep bereavement, when we were all unable to focus on anything, such as going to the movies. We (her, Michael, and myself) would just sit in the theatre with blank faces, thinking only of our grief.
But as I remember her words, I think I am truly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That isn’t necessarily negative, because addressing my trauma by sharing so much has left me happier and healthier than I’ve felt in a long time.
My hypnotherapist, Connie, always uses the phrase Up and Out. That means that it is so much better to gets things out, rather than let them fester. I had no idea that I had so much inside of me!
This morning is already so much better than only a few short months ago. It was difficult to wake up and face going to see my mother in the hospital. I had difficulty sleeping then, too, but it wasn’t fun like this.
When I started doing all this writing, I sent many emails out to my friends from all walks of life. I received an amazing reply from Riva, who had truly suffered alongside of me in my grief.
Although this might not be a time for humor, I have to add that Michael used to call her “Grieva and Bereava.” But then, since he was not open to talking about his grief, that is understandable!
On Feb 2, 2010, Riva wrote:
I have wanted to get to the computer all day to answer the heartfelt emails you have been sending. Obviously you are going through tremendous pain these days. It is palpable, even through the electronics that are now the mainstay of our daily lives. Trying to convey these feelings on the telephone would be impossible…without losing your voice and or your mind.
Firstly, let me say that I am so sorry to hear that your Mom is still so ill. She was and is for you, a rock. Please wish her, for us, a speedier recovery in the weeks to come.
I am finding as I move forward in this life, that for some of us, there is little refuge from the tests in life. Many of us cannot meet those challenges…you are not counted among those numbers. The problem is for those who rise up to meet the most difficult tests, each time there is a little more damage to contend with (in the future). Still, people with your kind of strength move ahead and accomplish amazing fetes.
The fact that you are so strong does not mean that you cannot have meltdowns! In fact, they serve to teach us new lessons…lessons that don’t get noticed when we are so busy…and coping.
Grief delayed is grief denied. And then posttraumatic stress sets in wherever it can (whenever we take a breath and let it). It sounds like you are smack in the middle of a PTSS. Fortunately, you are doing all the right things (as usual) to alleviate the pressure. Therapy and most importantly, reaching out.
I remember how you and I reached out to each other in those early days after Jason and Debby left the world…as we knew it? Our breakfasts at the Pancake House fed us the sustenance of friendship. Who else could have known what we felt?
Please know that I am and always will be here for you. Just ask.
Let’s get together for one of those “pancake breakfasts”.
Sending love, Riva
While going through bereavement, we not only mourn our own child, but we also mourn the children of our friends and partners in grief. I know all those children so well, as they know mine. I may not remember a parent’s name, but I always remember their child’s name.
Part of how I survived my pain was to know I was not alone. For a short time, I was the leader of a chapter of Compassionate Friends. It was quite difficult answering phone calls from newly bereaved parents. But I have always believed in “giving back,” because someone was there to take my phone call long ago.
I know I don’t mention my husband that much, but especially with grief men and women are quite different in regards to how they grieve. And so it was that after the trauma of having a sick child for five years, I began my grief journey alone. My husband was not open to talking about his feelings, and both of us were fairly “shell shocked” from our son’s illness and his death. Although we were more “prepared” than those parents or anyone that “suddenly” loses someone they love that was healthy, nothing can ever truly prepare you for grief.
When I begin to write more about my bereavement experience, I will be opening the door to my heart, and describing a place that you will never be able to go unless you have experienced that kind of loss. That’s why the Compassionate Friends Organization exists. We are all there for a reason; with loss we are forever changed!
I am very proud to have had my marriage survive that painful, grief journey, but one of the reasons was because we have always allowed for a great deal of separateness. Normally separateness is not a good thing, but in my case it has allowed me to take care of myself. Also, I really needed to do things my own way, ever since Jason was born.
After Jason was born, getting up so early every day to go to work and provide for his family despite his own stress and sadness was the way that my husband showed his love. He has been grieving for years, and will never speak about it.
I am writing this before dawn in my chilly art studio, and the rain is pattering outside on the pavement. I can’t believe the clarity of my memories, especially since I am soon to summon up memories from over twenty years ago.
I used to think I would have to “search” for material to write about. Well there is no shortage of that for me, because the things that I am writing about have either happened or are happening to me.
It may be very sad for people to soon read about how it felt for me to lose my child.
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.