The following was sent to me by a fellow grieving dad and frequent visitor to this blog. It was originally written by Annette Mennen Baldwin of TCF in Katy, TX. It took me several years to go through the complex process of reconstructing the new me. It’s a process that is painful and scary, but I believe it is necessary to truly discover the new you. I can really relate with the article when it talks about the strange things that happen to us. I felt like I was losing my mind. I hope you enjoy the article. Peace.
Therapists often encourage individuals to “deconstruct” and “reconstruct” themselves through a complex process that takes many, many years. In this evolution of the person, the psychological makeup, past and current environmental influences and many other factors play into the slow, yet simultaneous, deconstruction and reconstruction. Usually this is done without a great deal of emotional upset at any one time.
Unlike the patient who chooses to meet with a therapist, parents of children who have died have been suddenly and completely “deconstructed.” They have been involuntarily thrust into the dark totality of personal deconstruction. The emotions and feelings that comprise this deconstruction are overwhelming.
Parents who have lost a child to death will refer to their personal deconstruction as a total numbness followed by a deep pit, a dark hole, an abyss, a total loss of self, a purgatory of pure torture and a multiplicity of the deepest, saddest, most painful feelings and emotions known to the human race.
Reconstruction for parents is the most extremely difficult work one can choose to undertake. It is often much easier to bury emotions, hide in alcohol, denial, depression and other aberrant behaviors. Underlying psychiatric disorders can surface and take over lives and families after a parent has lost a child.
Strange things happen to us — we are more accident-prone, we don’t want to get up in the morning, word retrieval and names and places slip from our minds, we over-eat,we under-eat, we slide mentally from conversations in mid-sentence. We avoid old friends who don’t understand. We do not seek new relationships. We lock ourselves in our homes or offices and shut the world out. The deconstruction is devastating.
How do we start reconstructing our feelings and emotions?
For me, it was the loss of my husband after 25 years of marriage. I was devastated.
As a retired teacher, I found that poetry came to me better than any other form of “therapy.” Writing poems became a way for me to let out those feelings and learn to reconnect with society. I set aside time to write, and when that time was over, I started my life back up again. Of course, this took a lot of time and patience and it was not easy to just stop thinking about the devastating event that took place. However, I hope I can reach out to others about the importance of writing.
I have found so many forms of therapy, including therapy itself. However, I found that exercising, writing, this project, helping others, home projects, etc. were all forms of therapy. I didn’t use them to “get my mind” off of the grief, I used them to focus more on the issue that happened to be bothering me at the time. A form of processing.
Thanks for stopping by this blog.
Reconstruction is so very individualized and for me is only happening on the days that I can remember that the goal is not about “getting over it” that there is no way to leave it behind. We are forever changed and when I accept that the little things will always hurt and there is no way to fill the void then, on those days, I can learn to walk around in this changed life. I live for other reasons now, not for having those I love in my life. I live, especially when something brings that pain that sears like a burn, in a way that will bring honor to our daughter’s memory. I live and act in a way that will make her life and our loss worth something. I hold on to that burning sensation and remind myself that I am a different person now, my child changed me and the loss of their life changed me and I am going to make sure that her impact was a change for the better. Just like becoming a parent changes you in ways you cannot explain to those do not have children, you cannot explain who you are now to those who have not lost a child. One of the things many women do to deal with the pain of child birth is to relax thru the pain and say it will all be worth it in the end and you cannot bear down and hurt an innocent baby who is causing this pain. My grief is like labor pain it comes on unexpected at times invading my dreams and my day to day activities rhythmic and unpreventable. I could take drugs to numb myself but it will only slow things down and I want all this pain to bear fruit. I want the pain to bring about a new me. I am reconstructing a better me, less judgmental, less involved, I more easily let others learn their own lessons without my “help”… I speak my mind more easily and don’t care what others think. I am more sober in how I see life, my own and those around me. I am aware that I will loose others that I love and am more than capable of thinking the “unthinkable” I am braced for the inevitable. I am less gullible. I relate to “God” with an ever changed theology that I believe may have saved my afterlife.
WOW Rosemary…WOW! Your thoughts are magnificant and resonate with me deeply:)
Annette asks, “How do we start reconstructing our feelings and emotions after being deconstructed by grief?” I have thoughts on this subject and they are spiritual thoughts. They center me, put me on firm ground and give me a vision to see my loss in a different way.
Even though I FEEL the hate of my loss, miss my daughter and wish I was with her, I DON’T wish she was back here with me. I will use the pregnant analogy. To me, wishing she was back here would be like a pregnant woman wishing that her birthed baby would come back into her womb. The woman may have loved being pregnant and FEELING the closeness of her child. But she KNOWS something…and what she KNOWS is different then what she FEELS. Her pain filled journey of labor will be the only way her child will come into the world. She has to go through lots of pain to deliver this new life!!! As she is going through her labor pains, she endures the pain and dare I say she courageously “pushes into the pain” to receive her blessing…the blessing of her child in her arms.
All that to say, I desire to fully “push” into my own pain. I KNOW where my daughter is at and the joy she is experiencing. She has been birthed into eternity! I ask myself why would I want her to come back to the “womb” of time, space, matter and decay??? I KNOW that when my purpose on earth is completed, I will be with her forever. While I hate being temporarily separated from her now, I will love being united with her for eternity, then. Enduring the wait is the difficult part:((( Discerning between what I FEEL and what I KNOW is also challenging.
With torment and imperfection, I RELIQUISH my right to have my life the way I wanted it to my complete satisfaction and expectations. I ACCEPT my pain/deconstruction/labor in my life because of my loss.
My “deconstruction” has a lot to do with what I FEEL. My “reconstruction” has a lot to do with what and how I THINK. I KNOW personally that that is the true epiphany in my grief. It daily changes the way I FEEL.
I am with Steve below. Wow is right! Thank you so much for sharing all of that here. I can relate with your “building a better me” comment. I have reconstructed my approach to other people as a result of my losses. I use to be pretty self centered and self serving. I now get when other people are hurting, because I have been there and many dear people were so loving and caring enough to help me. I now feel it’s my responsibility to do the same for others. This “change” in me has also helped me to continue on my journey of healing.
Thanks again for sharing.