I was driving in to work today and thinking how far I have come since the early days of my grief. I started thinking about how something as simple as a good song gets me singing (not pretty, but to me I sound good) along with the radio. I now have goals and dreams that I look forward to pursuing. I also started to think about some of the rough days I had early in my grief. The only goals I had on those days were to survive and to get out of bed to make it to work. There was no singing along to the radio on the way to the office, only tears. Every time I start to beat myself up for not being “further” along in life, I try to stop myself and remember some of those early days.
One particular day really stands out to me. It started out with the normal dread of waking up and getting out of bed. I had one of those moments of bliss between sleeping and reality. The moment that you thought you had the worst nightmare of your life and the reality that you were living that nightmare. The day progressed with the mental struggles I often fought. But this day I didn’t have the strength to fight it, so I surrendered to it. I was am on my hands and knees and had been gaging/throwing up from the stress every time I tried to eat. Throwing up from the stress! I didn’t even realize that was possible. I was crying but there were no tears, only convulsive type spasms that resemble bawling, but again there were no tears. Only extreme sadness, fear, despair, depression, emptiness, guilt, devastation and anger. I am sure I am missing a bunch of other emotions that I was feeling that day.
I remember that it was a wintery afternoon and there I was on my hands and knees not knowing if I was going to survive. “Survive” is a word I asked myself a lot during the early days of the journey. “Am I going to survive this?” The reason I asked it was because I could feel myself dying and I really wasn’t sure I was going to survive. I asked my counselor, wife, family and friends. I needed confirmation that I was going to survive. And even when they said yes, I returned with “Are you sure? Because it doesn’t feel like I am going to.” I think some people around me started to ask the same question.
One friend of mine responded to an email I sent him. “Hey buddy, I am getting worried about you. This is the first time I have had concerns, I don’t want you hurting yourself, and you need to go to the doctor for help.” I never got to the point of thinking about ending the pain, but I can see how people get to that point. My friend was right, I needed to see a counselor.
When I was sitting with my counselor telling my story, I was fine (ok not fine, but better because I had an opportunity to tell my story and cry), but when I was on my own it would start to build up until my next appointment. I needed her with me to help tame conversations I was having with myself regarding the survival of this nightmare. Unfortunately, my insurance only covered one visit per week.
As I mentioned earlier, I sometimes have a tendency to judge myself for not being the guy I was 10 years ago before the loss of my first child. However, when I look back at some of those dark days, I realize I have come a long way from those days and that it’s ok to have easy/relaxing/enjoyable days and that the most important thing is the fact I feel happiness and peace in my life. Those two things are not easy to come by and I need reminders of those days to realize that it’s ok to just sit back and enjoy the simple things in life.
I decided to share my thoughts and this story today because I want you to realize that no matter where you are in this journey, there is hope. There are brighter days ahead if you put in the hard work of allowing the grief process to run its course instead of fighting it. Learn to surrender and be vulnerable.
What are your thoughts on this subject?