Emotions after the Death of a Child: Anxiety

This is a continuation of the “emotion series” blogs that I will be writing about.  As a father, these are many of the emotions that I experienced after the loss of my two children.  I thought I would begin with the emotions/feelings that begin with the letter “A”.

Anxiety:  I must say I never understood when people talked about “feeling” anxiety.  I never understood it because I had never experienced it.  That is until I lost both of my children.  My world was turned up side down as I spiraled out of control while trying to keep my head above water.  I felt like I was drowning in my own thoughts, crazy thoughts.  Thoughts that came at me by the thousands.  I couldn’t stop them.  I felt like my life was literally coming unglued.  Is this what a nervous breakdown feels like?  I couldn’t shut down my thoughts.  I was becoming obsessed with thinking about everything that happened.

I believe my anxiety was caused by a direct strain on my nervous system.  The strain?  The death of my children.  Shock and trauma that was inflicted upon me.  How will I cope?  I didn’t.  The anxiety and panic set in, fear shortly followed.

I remember one incident where I was at the grocery store with my wife.  It was later in the evening so there were not many people around.  I was standing in one of the isles when I felt a warm sensation run thought my body.  I started shaking while I fought back tears.  I felt claustrophobic and wanted to take off running out of the store.  I took a few deep breaths until I was able to get it under control.  Not sure what triggered it, but this wasn’t the only incident, it seemed to happen quite often.  Eventually I was able to identify when an anxiety attack was about to hit.

It was something that I constantly felt on some level.  The severe attacks come out of no where and were usually followed by tears.  That seemed to be the only way to release it.

Over a long period of time and once my grief started to subside, my anxiety started to go away.  It’s been a couple of years since I had an attack, but I remember them like it was yesterday.

Do you have any stories of anxiety attacks that you would like to share?  Feel free to send them to me or post them as a comment to this blog.

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This entry was posted in anxiety, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of parent, Emotions, Grief, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Miscarriage, Panic, Stillbirth. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Emotions after the Death of a Child: Anxiety

  1. Michael says:

    Hello. June 15th 2010 will forever stay in my mind. As we approach the 1 month mark, I find that I find it hard to leave my wife alone. Whenever there is a loud noise in the house and she is near I start to go into panic attacks that last 10 or so minutes and I find myself getting light headed, having a “heavy” chest, and finding hard to breath. I normally work out and am pretty active. I run at least 3 to 4 half marathons a year. But lately since June 15th I find it harder and harder to get out there, but everytime the attacks come they seem to come quicker and stay longer. I’m working on trying to calm down but not sure on what helps. Any advice anyone may have would be great. Thank you for listening.
    Mike

    • GrievingDads says:

      Mike,

      Controlling anxiety is difficult to do, but it is possible. I assume since you are on this site and you mentioned June 15th, 2010 as a day that is forever burned into your mind that you experienced a trauma of some type. Loss of a child? Grief and trauma manifests itself in wierd ways. Panic is just one of them. Strange fears start to creep into you mind that you never had before. I use to do several things: workout, read, pray, went to church (wasnt much of a prayer or church guy before, but spent every morning before work nealing and praying – if helped alot), stayed away for stressful situations including watching the “news” or violent movies, etc. All of these things final started to help. But it wasnt until I started to talk about my losses that the panic started to subside. It got pretty bad. (See my response to Robb above). I hate to admit it, but I also took medication to control it. I never believed in medication, but it helped. I didnt take it very often unless it got really bad. I didnt want ot rely on it or become attached to it. I haven’t taken any meds or felt panic in years. It took a lot of talking that eventually replaced the anxiety with peace. Peace I hadn’t experienced since I was a child. I like the way it felt. As an adult with responsibilties, that peace didnt last for long, but the panic/anxiety is gone.

  2. robb says:

    Ever since we lost our infant daughter about 10 months ago, I am prone to anxiety attacks anytime I am not with my wife and living 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter. I experience many of the symptoms you describe and just “know” in my gut that something tragic and fatal has happened to them in my absence. I tell myself that I’m not insane & that it’s probably some normal part of the grieving process, but the attacks can be inconvenient to say the least!

    • GrievingDads says:

      You are not insane and its pretty common for people to get anxiety or panic attacks after going through trauma. The loss of a child is just that. Trauma.

      I use to get attacks before going into work meetings with people I have worked with for 10 years. I would get so bad I would have to go outside and soemtimes I would throw up. I couldn’t help it. It took me a while to figure out what was causing them since I was in denial after the lost of my first child. I started having physical symtoms and ended up in the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. I even made my doctor give me a brain scan because I was convinced that I had a brain tumer. Crazy crazy stuff. Its just part of the process and I think mine got pretty bad becasue I was hard on my self for not being the same person I was before the loss. I have since learned that it was just part of the process and haven’t had a panic attack in several years. So happy for that.

  3. Hello. I am so sorry for your losses. I truly understand the stages through which you are going. I have written a book to help bereaved parents cope with the most devastating experience of their lives: Through the Eyes of a Dove. If you go to this site and type in the name of the book in the white bar, it will come up. The story is unique because it contains not only “messages” from the other side, but many experiences that have happened to our family to help us understand and give us comfort. I pray for peace to come to you. May you learn to live with your children in Spirit.
    Love,
    Suzie Courtney

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