“The wild feral animal that comes in your house and won’t leave (or listen to you).”
That’s the way the grief counselor described how an event like this – (a sudden devastating diagnosis and death of a loved one)- affects the human brain. And it’s completely accurate.
It’s also a great way to describe how the memories of the lost person plow into you when you least expect it. Welcome or not, they come flooding back like an unexpected assault right when you think you’re going to be okay.
It’s only been a little over a month- it still feels unreal- yet the ashes prove it is real.
Nothing is the same. Suddenly there’s no one (except pets) to greet you when you wake up in the morning. No one to brew coffee for and start the day with. No more dinners out, nor birthdays, nor holidays to share together. No one to give the much-needed hugs, validation, and encouragement.
And yet, there is so much to do. Little time to grieve, or even dare to let yourself feel. Numbly, life goes on unmarked by everyone but the family who are left with a tangle of emotion that they don’t even know how to vocalize. And the children- and grandchildren- who just can’t even process what’s happening.
They throw themselves into work, or play, or anything they can to get a reprieve from the hurricane of un-named feelings swirling around in their minds. And the 5 – year- old in her innocence and inability to grasp the finality of it simply turns it into a pretend situation with her Barbies.
I’ve been advised to write about it by both my counselor and my doctor. I’ve noticed that trying to carry on as I always did before isn’t working very well. The emptiness and feelings just refuse to be ignored. Yes, I know and am confident that my husband is no longer in misery and constant pain. And for that I’m grateful- What I watched him suffer, I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I will write because they have advised me to- and somehow it really does help. I am returning to my daily workout routine (trying anyway). I’ve lost 13 pounds and my blood pressure is great- I’m eating well – I was already in the habit of eating ‘clean.’
But I have headaches every single day now and my hair has started falling out. Somehow this is especially upsetting, because my husband – (and everyone else) – has always loved my long hair. The Doctor confirmed yesterday that both the hair loss and the headaches are due to the stress that erupted like a volcano in December and continued as I provided hospice care for my husband until he passed away last month.
Apparently you really can’t get by on an hour or two of sleep every night for weeks, and not be affected by it. I am told that the hair loss will correct itself once the stress is reduced- so I am doing everything they said I should do- counseling, writing, making sure I get enough sleep, managing stress and resuming my exercise routines. Adding to this a scoop of collagen powder in my coffee every morning, a balanced, clean diet, biotin and other vitamins. I’ve also started watching comedy and making time for relaxing things that I enjoy but “never have time for.”
Laughter really does help- It doesn’t take away the feelings, but it does make it easier, and keeps me from dwelling on the things I can’t change. And where these things fail, The Lord Himself takes over. He reminds me that my peace, hope, and security is found in Him – even in the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23)