“I Can’t Breathe”
I have my blog set up to send me an email every time a new comment is posted. I do this so I can make sure there are not inappropriate or hurtful things being posted. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting at my desk when a notification popped up to let me know a new comment was posted from a fellow grieving dad. I gave it a quick once over since I was at work and wouldn’t get a chance to really review it until I got home that evening. There were several paragraphs of text, but the following statement really stood out to me:
“I feel like I am walking around under water; everything is muffled and blurry and I can’t breathe.”
I caught myself mumbling the words “fuck, I know that feeling” under my breath when I read it. Just reading those words took me right back to those days I felt like that. I remember those days when no matter how hard I tried, I could not shake those feelings. This feeling of being “underwater” and everything seems muffled sounded very familiar to me. In fact, I wrote about these similar feelings when I first sat down to right my book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back. I went back to my original writing files and found some text that never made it into my book for whatever reason. I think it’s powerful and it captures how I felt about these “muffled” feelings:
The loss of a child permeates every aspect of your life. Your world becomes turned upside down. Things you thought were important are no longer. Everything you thought was under your control isn’t.
It’s like being dropped deep into a body of water blindfolded at night, you are alone and in complete silence except for what you hear in your head, you just don’t know which way is up. The fear sets in and you start to experience psychological and physical symptoms you may have never felt before. Fear turns to panic as you try to make sense of it all, grasping for help. Your nervous system has been impacted with almost irreversible damage, trauma, I’ve heard it described. Call it what you will, it doesn’t change the way you feel inside.
After you lose a child, you may no longer recognize the person in the mirror. You look vaguely familiar in physical features only. The look you see in your own eyes displays so much pain, pain that no one on the street recognizes and if they do, they haven’t inquired. That would make them to uncomfortable.
Some people close to you become concerned. They say things like “you just have to get over this”. In return you ask them “Would you get over it if your child died?” They stare at you with a blank look, offended that you would even ask such a question. If you have lost a child, you know this isn’t something you get over. Only those that have lost a child can understand the depths in which this pain travels.
It’s been a couple of years since I have read these 3-4 paragraphs, but just reading them takes me back to when I was writing them and trying my best to provide a glimpse to a non-bereaved parent what this journey feels like. Although the journey and pain can never be captured in words, I think it does paint a picture of what it might feel like for those that hopefully will never have to know.
Can you relate with this topic? If so, please explain how.