Sunday, October 12, 2014

Birthday Flowers

The past couple of weeks has been stressful. I have read that loved ones who have passed on may try to get in touch with you around your Birthday. In the last two weeks I have experienced tugging on my shirt while laying in bed (no one else in the room), and R has come to visit me in my dreams at least twice. He walked up to me from no where, kissed me like we were old friends, and then we sat down in plush chairs across from each other and chatted. It felt so real. I had another dream of the same type, where we talked. There was no distress in the dream, just peacefulness. That makes me think that he is trying to tell me he is comfortable and ok where he is.

After waking from those dreams, I was reminded of his tradition of sending me flowers each birthday and valentine's day. It was a very sweet gesture that I loved. What girl doesn't love pretty flowers? That is a special memory; one of the good ones. It's made me miss him. I don't like to admit it, because I feel like it would hurt my fiancé's feelings, but this is my honest forum. It's perfectly normal for me to miss him. Sometimes I feel like I have moved on. I have moved on, but I will never be "moved on." The hard reality is that it just doesn't go away. It's here forever and I have to get used to living with it. It's been two years- that may seem like a long time, but it doesn't feel that way.

I've been feeling a bit depressed the last couple of weeks, too, and there are several things going on in my daily life that would bring stress to any normal person. But, I had an epiphany the other day that part of my irritability may be due to my upcoming birthday (today). This is my third birthday since he died. I am turning 38, the age R was when he killed himself. I cannot imagine not living beyond this year to the next. He was so young; I still can't believe this happened. How could he end his life so young?

I have done a lot of reading about After Death Communication (ADC) and it doesn't feel far-fetched to me. However, it has been said that to experience it, you have to have an open mind to the concept.
After Death Communication Project

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Waves

I'm trying to figure out how to put into words what I have been through tonight, today, the last week, the last month... It's all tied together.

My son and I moved into a house with my fiancé last month. Last month happens to be the anniversary of you-know-what. So naturally this would screw up any plans I have to be normal. I thought I could trick myself. I think that's called Denial. I refused to think that any emotional state I was going through had anything to do with R's death. I have been a mess. I have been angry as hell. I don't like the surprise factor. Tonight I sat on the floor of my son's bedroom, waiting for him to fall asleep. I tend to meditate when doing this; except tonight I started to think about R, and the tears just came flowing out from the deep. I felt afraid that I was going to lose him somehow. Or that he was going to leave me all over again. I've been arguing a lot with my fiancé and think that what I am really afraid of is that HE is going to leave me, too. Am I trying to make it so? Am I so used to grieving, that I am afraid to let it all go and move on?  I spoke to R in my mind, and I felt that he spoke back to me, "go to him," And in my mind I said back "okay," as a child would do while crying, snot running down my face. So I did. And what a small miracle happened- we calmly talked things out.

Lesson learned- stop being so damned angry, Sarah.
It's hard. There is a lot to be angry about.
I am dealing with the loss of Nursing School. I don't get to finish unless I start all over again at a lower level. Who wants to do that after 4 years of hard work? The problem is that I cannot handle the intensity right now. It's a very difficult thing for me to accept that I will not be able to finish something that I wanted so badly. I cannot ignore my son to go stick my nose in books. He needs me and I need him.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's Talk About It: On Robin Williams' Death

When I found out how he killed himself last evening it was like a kick in the gut. Why? Here come all of the questions that happen with suicide. What happened? Why? Was there a note explaining? On and on...

It seems like the entire world is sad today, the day after. I have been sad thinking about how much personal agony Robin must have been in. I just cannot get over it.  I am shocked. However, my faith is strong. I know that through this God will make something positive for the greater good. I say Thank you, Robin for your joy. We never wanted to you leave us this way. But out of this something good will come, I promise.

 This is horribly tragic and is so similar to my husband's death, that it automatically takes me back there. R killed himself on a Monday, too Same manner. August 6, only 5 days earlier is the anniversary of R's death. Every time August 11th comes around, I will be thinking of Robin Williams and his family, too. I am heartbroken for his kids, just like I am for mine. Left Behind are his family and friends, and a massive audience. Today is Tuesday, and I still vividly remember what I was doing on August 7, 2012. I went to see R's body in the medical examiner's office, because I had not been at the hospital the night before where he was declared dead.  I had to feel his skin and know that he was gone. It just all felt like a bad dream. Then my family drove me over to the funeral home where I had to plan. I picked out a casket, flowers, a "package." R and I had never talked about what he would want in the way of a memorial; so I did the best I could. I tried to pick what I thought he would like. Do you want to have a viewing? Do you want to have a funeral? On separate days? When? What time? How long? Where? What do you want to have happen during the service? Who do you want to Eulogize? There were so many questions to answer and decisions to make it seemed nearly impossible to get through it all. It was extremely difficult to do all that while in shock.

Suicide is a complicated kind of grief and I hate that anyone else has to live with it. I am trying to reach as many people as I can so that we can support each other. We don't ask for mental illness ,just like people don't ask for cancer. Over the last ten years there has been a big hoo0-rah for patients fighting cancer and survivors, which is awesome. How about mental illness? Let's do the same. Let's have a big push to de-stigmatize and support each other. All kinds of ideas are zipping through my mind right now. Fundraisers. There are some great organizations out there for the prevention of Suicide. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

And for friends and families left behind: Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors

If you feel that you are in crisis, in danger of hurting yourself, you can call or even CHAT ONLINE with a counselor on the Suicide Prevention Lifeline



Sunday, July 20, 2014

That time of year

How was I to know you only had two weeks and three days more of your life? I'm still mad at you. It was a stupid impulsive thing you did. You might as well have done it right in front of us, for the ripple effect it has had. I've been under a tremendous amount of stress the last 2 years. How could you just give up like that? You were an athlete- athletes don't give up damnit! Your anniversary is on a Wednesday. Thanks for pre-occupying my brain space in advance. August 6 will never be the same again. It will be a day we struggle through every year. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Panic

I never thought this would happen to me. I thought I was on too much anti-depressant medication. But it's true. You can still have a panic attack while on plenty of medication... Here's how it happened to me: 

Before resolving an argument we (my fiancé and I) go to dinner with my son and my parents. Behind the wheel I am steaming while keeping a straight face (I'm German, it's what we do). From the back seat my son is chatting on and asking questions he may or may not get answers to. I take my time getting out of the car because I don't want to look my fiancé in the face. My head is swirling. I sit gingerly at the orange-topped pizza joint table. "What would you like to drink?" says the waitress expectantly. I look at her blankly- "water," is all I can eek out. Don't make me talk. I can't speak right now. My stomach is twisting and turning. I try my best to interact with my son. But I am so trapped in my thoughts, my weak smile is a pathetic attempt. The drinks and the plates come. I can't eat. They go to the pizza buffet together and I sit blankly, my insides revving up swirling faster and faster. I feel like everyone is staring at me. They come back to the table and not long after, tears roll down my hot cheeks. I must leave. This is so embarrassing. I don't want my son to see me this way. I go outside and around the corner of the building because I know that people won't be staring me in the face as they walk in the door to the restaurant over there. I am numb and yet I feel like I am going to explode. I feel the need to shake the living hell out of my hands to get this feeling out. But it won't come out. I'm breathing heavily, I can't catch my breath. And then I realize: this is exactly how I felt the evening that R died. I felt panicked and paralyzed. I didn't know what to do. My head was swirling with too many thoughts at once. I remember my stomach like a brick for days after, and wringing my hands. I cried and cried, feeling mad at myself for having a breakdown during dinner. But I didn't know at the time that I was having a panic attack and I couldn't help these physical reactions. The parallel makes total sense to me now: We argue (R and I used to a lot), I get anxious because I don't like to argue, I come home to a life changing surprise (R has killed himself), deep down I am afraid this will happen again. So I take some Ativan that the doctor has given me to keep on hand, I notice at almost the exact time we arrived home that day to find him dead. It takes a good half hour to start working on me. Enough so that I can eat a little. Even so, suddenly I break down again. Crying- just not able to stop it. The kind where you cannot breathe. I would have wept openly if I had not been in a restaurant. I pulled and tugged at my shirt as if it was suffocating me. Deep breaths. I need deep breaths, but I am afraid of what kind of guttural sound will come out of me if I try to do that. I don't know what's wrong with me!!! Thank God my fiancé recognized what was happening and came to my side to help me.

With that behind me- now my questions are: why haven't I had one of these before? It's been almost 2 years since R died. Why was this the first time? And I thought I had made more progress than this? Does this mean I have regressed? Will this keep happening to me over and over again now? Is this normal for someone who has experienced what I have?

The 2 year anniversary is coming up. I am wondering what to do. Last year there was a "life celebration" in his honor, but for me it was like going through the funeral all over again. I am glad I don't have to do that again. We will do something to honor his life. I just have to think of how to do it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Finding Things

Remember those boxes that I had? Yep. Still have them. Still not unpacked. 

Most of them are on our bottom floor which doubles as a playroom for my son and the cats. A couple of weeks ago I started looking through one as he was playing. I came across the framed portrait of our son that R left his note on. I was rifling through the box and when I saw what it was, I froze. I didn't even want to touch it. I stopped and stared at it for a while feeling sick to my stomach. Here come the flashbacks: walking into the sunny playroom, why is the big Elmo doll on the floor with our son's picture leaning on it? What is this note? 
"I'm sorry.
 I love you, B. 
Love, Daddy."
What the hell does that mean? 
I thought for sure he was off on a bike ride or sitting in the garage getting high. No. He was hanging in my garage with his Black Belt from Judo, that he worked so hard for, tightened around his neck. 

Tell me: what do I do with this picture and frame? Throw the whole thing away? Take the picture out and throw the frame away? Only problem is I know whenever I see that picture, no matter what frame it's in, I will be brought back to that moment. Every single thing in those boxes has a memory attached to it and the thought of going through all those items is daunting. I usually end up putting things back into the box and closing it. 

Last night I happened to be looking through another box. What's in this box? I can tell what room in our charming little house it was packed from by looking at the things that are in it. The living room. Photo albums. I see the small album from the bed & breakfast we stayed at on our honeymoon. I start flipping through the pictures and suddenly he is there, staring me right in the face. Whoa. There he is. Alive. With color in his face. And happy. Now he's dead. The last time I saw him he was laying in a casket looking sunken and sallow. You had a whole life ahead of you, why did you do that? My stomach turning, I close it and put it back in the box. 

I want to go through all of these boxes and be done with it. Just like my grief. I want to be done with it. The thing is, this will never go away. I just learn how to live on with it. BUT, the boxes and all the things that are in them CAN go away. And when I figure out what to do with them it will be a big burden off my back. I have to be kind to myself. Cut myself some slack. Nothing ever has to be done before I am ready to deal with it. 




Sunday, June 1, 2014

Blankie

I want my Blankie I say to myself as I am getting into to bed. It's been a rough night. My son seems to be all confused and angry inside and he is taking it out on me. His defiant behavior has me stumped. My frustration level is low, just like his, and I become so angry but am determined not to take it out on him. This is not his fault. I think about how this would not be happening if R had not decided to kill himself. That doesn't mean there would not have been other problems, but it just seems so unfair that a boy so little must carry such a big burden. I did the best that I could. I made him get into the bath where I knew he would start calming down after he angrily splashed and soaked the rest of the bathroom with water. Fine. At least the bathroom's meant to get wet. After bath, I have him draw a picture of what he is feeling right now. He draws himself as sad and me as angry. My fiancé talks to him in a way that I don't know how- he gets my son to think about his behavior. So, I start crying and have to leave the room. My little one follows me and says, "Mommy, I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"
I look at him crying not to completely breakdown and squeak out "yes." Then he hugs me for a while. What a sweet boy I have.
It's not his fault that I am crying, I get overwhelmed sometimes and at that moment the only thing that will clear the air is a good cry. I was having all sorts of flashbacks while all this was going on and by the end of the night I was drained. My fiancé took good care of my heart as only a best friend knows how to do. And now that its' time for me to go to bed, I am wanting something to hold on to. Something soft, cuddly, something that won't kick me in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dreams and Nightmares

Last night I had a dream, I would characterize it as a nightmare. In fact, I had a series of nightmares last night that were so wacky I thought for sure I would remember all of them today. I only remember two. The first was of R and me fighting, except he wasn't speaking at all. It was just me doing all the yelling. I took off my engagement ring and threw it at him. I felt betrayed somehow. I feel betrayed by him now, so that is not so far from reality. I have read in some books that when you dream about a deceased loved one, what is really happening is they are trying to get in touch with you. If that is true, was he just letting me yell at him so I could get it out?  Is he so otherworldly and wise now that it is beyond me to understand why he would be okay with that? I believe a little bit of everything. I believe in science, which says that our brains are sorting through things when we dream. I suppose I must admit that I am still sorting through this in my mind. And I also believe in the supernatural, because God himself is supernatural, and therefore his universe must contain some of these things. Where would miracles come from if he were not? Lately I have been thinking about how much time has passed since R's death and how it has almost been 2 years. It feels like it has taken an eternity and yet it has gone by quickly. His birthday was last week; it would have been his 40th. I really cannot believe that it has been this long. It is always close by, because I have flashbacks. They seem to escalate around these "anniversaries." Today I was in an office supply store minding my own business when I heard a song on the radio that came out just about the same time as his death. I immediately and involuntarily felt sick to my stomach. I want to throw-up, I thought. God, make it stop,...ugh I just want to throw up. It stunned me a bit, so I stood there in the middle of the aisle staring at a bunch of leather pad-folios. I don't want to think about it. I know I am supposed to let the thoughts come and let it pass, but it is so hard. It's a horrible thing to think about. I realize now that especially in the first year I was doing a lot of this behavior called "avoidance." It is exactly what it sounds like, which is to avoid anything that reminds a person of the trauma or death. I know that is why I tried so hard to continue with nursing school. It was a brilliant way to avoid dealing with the whole thing. I put it off and put if off- but eventually it breaks through. You cannot avoid for too long before it comes busting through to the surface. I thought I had beat this avoidance behavior by forcing myself to go to therapy when I knew I really needed it. But, I STILL find myself doing it now and then. I just have to remind myself that this is not going to ruin me.

After my last blog entry, I was proud in realizing that I have made some progress in my grief work. The fact that I was able to recognize it is a big deal. Usually when I have a breakdown or a crying spell, whatever you want to call it, it is difficult for me to go on with the rest of the day. But, this time I was able to pick myself up after an hour or two and get my ass out the door. I went to Sam's, walked around kind of confused, in a dream-like state with my eyes burning from the crying and dried sodium all over my face. I looked at other people and wondered if they were dealing with the same thing I was; or was it just me? Am I the only one?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Will I Ever Be Normal Again

Today is one of those days that I don't want to leave my apartment, much less the couch. I am tired. I get tired a lot. My son is at school and I miss him tremendously. I NEED to go to the grocery store, but I just cannot get myself to go. Later, I keep telling myself. It seems like every few days I need a break. I have to re-collect myself. I wonder if I will ever be normal again. Would I be able to handle a "normal" job? Of course, I'm not really the type of person who likes a traditional job. I did that for 2 years and I hated it. I don't want to have to think about this tragedy today, but it will not leave my mind. There is usually a trigger of some sort and I always like to figure out what it is so I can be prepared for the next time. But it's really impossible to know every trigger. Sometimes it is the most minute thing. However, today was "Daddy's Day" at my son's school. My fiance went to spend this little celebration with him; and I am grateful for that. I'm just so sad for my baby; he is so little. What is it like to grow up without a father? I have no idea. I grew up with mine and he is still alive. I don't know how to make it better for him.  And I can't.  It's over, done. There is no going back in time to fix it. I just try to help him through the best that I can, stumbling along the way. While I go to his therapy sessions, it pains me to see how hurt he is and that he cannot express his feelings with words. This week he scribbled really fast and hard on paper and made grunting noises as if he were angry. That is one way he can get it out.  As an adult I am able to talk and write about it. But, truly sometimes I cannot talk about it, I don't know what to say. It's hard for me to express what I am feeling about it sometimes. This is how I feel right now: sad, mad, tired, depressed. What in the hell were you thinking R? How could you be so impulsive and leave your son like that?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chocolate Cake

Last week I went to the town where R and I lived. It's always hard driving past the places where there are memories. Curiosity got a hold of me and I had to drive past our old house, or "the sad house" as my son calls it. This is where we used to live. Where we started out lives together, built a family. I have already said good-bye to the house over a year ago. But it has been vacant for a long time. Finally, someone bought it. There is life in that house again and I was suprised at how glad I was to see it that way. I assumed I would feel more possessive about someone living in "our house." But, no. I was not. I was relieved to see pink flowers hanging from the black iron on the front porch and someone's Volvo in the driveway. There is life in that house again, and that is a wonderful thing.
Afterwards, I went to the cemetery. I had a giant slice of chocolate cake leftover from my earlier lunch, so I decided I would sit on the bench at his gravesite and eat it. It was really a beautiful day. Very peaceful at the cemetery. I had some solitude, and some chocolate cake with R. I sat crossed-legged for a while and a leaf came down and smack-landed right on the center of my foot. Hello, R. 
Wait. Is that you? Maybe it's just a coincidence. Maybe it's just a leaf falling. But why then does that happen everytime I come here? Ok. If it's you, then do it again. Nah. That's stupid. What am I doing. Just send me a sign if you are here. Still stupid! Shut-up S. 
I continued to indulge in my cake and not five minutes later a little darning needle came flitting about. This is not the first time this has happened. I saw him flying around my feet and smiled. Silly little thing. Then, SMACK another leaf hit me in the center of the foot. This may sound crazy to some- but these are the types of little games we play to keep our relationship going. He's still there. We still have a relationship, but it's different now.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dirty Laundry

Everybody's got it.
Does anyone understand how straight up SPOOKY it is to be in the car having an argument with your fiance when suddenly the wedding song you danced to with your late husband comes on the radio? It was like he was trying to intervene, or maybe to tell me he's sill here for me.
When my heart is all twisted up and I get that pain in my chest, the pain of heart ache, I never know what to do with myself. Usually I find myself curled up in the fetal position crying on my bed or my couch. I don't know what to do anymore. It's overwhelming. That's when I start to think there is no way out of this mess. Ever. This is my moment of weakness. Everyone has them. Oprah has them, and that means everyone has them. I don't do well with changes. I move up to NC, and have a breakdown. Can hardly get through a day of classes for fear of failing- and that is exactly what happened. I worried about it and sent it out into the universe so much that it actually happened. Good job, S. Right now my head is going through verses of negative self-talk. You idiot. What were you thinking. This is all your fault. How did you think this was going to happen with  no family around? Just forget it. You can't do anything right. Part of this is stress and part or most of it relates to depression (I think). When you get to the edge of the well and you're standing there trying to decide whether or not to jump, merely putting a toe over the side can send you tumbling down the dark abyss. It's too easy to give up. That's not what I'm made of. I'm the one who will do over and over and over again until something makes me stop. My middle name is tenacious. Not really. It's Elizabeth. Or am I mistaking tenacity for stupidity? I don't know. Life and conviction has led me HERE for some reason. Here I am. What will you do with me, God?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Living With PTSD

This is what it's like to have a flashback, if it even does it any justice:
I'm sitting on the couch watching a cartoon with my son and I happen to look at the light coming in through the window. I notice the time on the clock. It's 6:35 pm, just about the time I got home with my son, just before we found R hanging in the garage. I haven't had a flashback in a month or so, and that is an improvement. I remember. I have visuals. Opening the door to the darkness and seeing him there. My stomach fills with butterflies and panic squeezes my chest. All of the panic I felt that day comes back. The not knowing. The confusion. The damned cell phone battery that had 10% left in it when this began right when I needed to make about a million phone calls. The feeling of isolation. I was there by myself with my young child. And until I called my parents, no one knew what was going on. Everyone was just going on about their daily lives, meanwhile mine was being turned upside down and inside out. Changed forever. I close my eyes in the hopes of making it go away. However, my therapist says I should let it come, and then let it go. So I do. I let the visuals come and then leave; I let the connected feelings come and then go. And then I have to get up and do something else to take my mind away from this horrible place. So I sit here and tell you about it, in the hopes that it may strike a chord with someone else, help in some way.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Walking Through Water



As I walk down the isle once again, my legs feel heavy like they are trudging through water knee-deep. This is where we were married, and now it is so still and dark. The silence is deafening. I remember how happy a day it was for everyone. Who could've known what was to come in such a short period of time. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Oh Dread

Today the steam got blown out of me. I couldn't hold it in anymore. Tears, again. It's been a while. But there they were. At the end of the day when I can't take it anymore, that is a common time for me to cry. Alone. I'm not the kind of person who likes to cry in front of everyone. So, when I am alone that's when the tears come. It's funny how I knew this would happen. I would have a bit of a "let down" after all these good days. I start to feel out of control and my mind has dark thoughts. Like flashes of hurting myself. Not like I want to, but just a flash. What would it be like if everything I cared about today was just suddenly gone? Nothing would matter to me. Much like R's tragedy has completely changed my perspective on the many things and stressors of life. Priorities change. Material things mean almost nothing. They more a symbol than anything else. Crap, crap, and more crap we all want to have. It all means nothing. You cannot take it with you when you die. What can you take? Love. Faith. Relationships. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ghosts

Sometimes I want to go to his grave site, jump up and down on it and yell, "YOU.ARE.NOT.SUPPOSED.TO.BE.HERE!!!"  Over and over again until he comes back to life. You were so young, you idiot! You had your whole life to live!
But I just sit there under the huge oak tree, the breeze and the birds chirping. It's quiet.
When will he comeback? 
Any minute now? 
No.
Never.
He is gone.
Dead. 

A few nights ago I had a nightmare. I woke myself up from yelling and I was drenched in sweat. I had been screaming, "Get out!!! Get out of here!!! You are not allowed to be here!!!" Ghosts had invaded my house and would not leave. I have heard that you must do this if you want spirits to leave your premises. You have to tell them to leave, there is nothing for them where you are residing. I can guess that the house is my "new life" that I have been forced to find. And that I do not want these "ghosts" of grief to follow me or haunt me anymore. Unfortunately, they will linger. Maybe not be visible all the time. They will make themselves known sometimes. I do not want them to ruin my hopefulness. Stay away! Things in my life are feeling normal -whatever that means. I have a purpose. As each day passes it is further and further from that awful day and makes it less intense.

So I dream about Tornadoes and Ghosts. What do you dream about?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Forgiving

Can we forgive ourselves? Is that really possible if you are a Christian? I believe in the Lutheran doctrine which says that God is the only one who can forgive us. R's death was a choice he made, and I know that intellectually. But there is still guilt. And what to feel guilty of if I was not the one to kill him? Lots of things: simply being alive while he is gone, what could I have done to stop him? (answer: nothing), why wasn't I able to save him when I found him? (answer: it was too late), etc...the list goes on and on. Some of these things are logical and some are not. Through all of my reading I have learned that with any kind of death there is guilt. It seems to be a criteria for the grieving process. And so what do I forgive myself of? Or what do I ask God to forgive me of? Whatever I can; for instance, anything I ever did to hurt R, not being able to help in some way, being angry at R, all kinds of things. Anger is one of the biggest issues I have. I get angry for the littlest, stupidest things and it is sometimes intrusive and inconvenient. Example: the other day I was happily walking my son into the YMCA for his swim lesson. It was twilight and a huge firetruck sat in the front entrance with it's lights flashing around. As I walked past the firetruck I was instantly transported back to that horrible evening when R decided to kill himself. When we found him it was twilight, the sky was the same color, it was damn near the same exact time of day, and after I called 911 there was a huge firetruck, ambulance and 2 police cars sitting in my front yard with the soft light of evening in the background. I sat on my front steps praying in a panic and wondering what in the hell to do with  my son at this moment. How to protect him? You cannot. You cannot protect your children from everything in the world. I think I had good instincts in keeping him with me, and explaining to him in very simple language what was happening. And back to my anger: walking past a firetruck is a simple task, right? Normally one  might wonder, what happened here? Is everyone OK? But not me. I think about how we came home and found him hanging there - and proceed to think, You son of a bitch. I can't even walk past a firetruck without thinking of what you did. How could you do that?! How could you do that to your son?! 

However, this truly is a process. And each time I am reminded of his suicide, the cut hurts a little less and a little less and I am able to move past it. Deep wounds do heal. It just takes time and care, like healing from a heart surgery. My chest was opened and worked on, and sewn back up again, but the true healing takes much longer with special care for months and months and maybe even years afterwards.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Somber vs. Happy

I don't want to grieve anymore. I don't want to think about it anymore. I am tired of working on it. I want to work on something else. Grief is hard work. It is draining. My life outside of this tragedy is finally going pretty well. I'm happy and hopeful for the future; the door to a personal dream I have had all my life seems to be opening up to me. I want to remain happy and energized- I don't want to think about the death of my husband all the time. And I don't have to. Did you hear that? I don't have to! What a horrible way to live, thinking about death all of the time. R would never have wanted that for me. I'll say something quite controversial here: screw what R would have wanted for me. I am not living out his life or his dreams, I am living out my own. This is my life, my time table, and no one else has a say in the matter except for me. I will not apologize for being me, or for being happy. And THAT is what R wants for me.

The problem with being a widow, particularly a young one, is that you are carefully scrutinized. Our culture expects you to be somber all the time. Our culture does not accept non-traditional grieving, grieving without tears, too much or too little- if you don't do it the exact right way, something is "wrong."

Tragedy such as this opens you up and makes you vulnerable. There is no energy left over for putting on a facade. This has been one of the greatest gifts to me. I have finally become my own person. I found myself. I found connection to my own spirit I have never had before. I truly believe God has somehow turned a horrible thing into something good. As humans we can never understand how this is possible. But I don't question it, I just keep believing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feeling Crazy

When it has been a few days (since I have written on this subject) I become very antsy. I can hardly sit still until I can get something out again. Just now, before I sat down to my little netbook, you would have seen me literally pacing the length of my apartment in my sweatpants and bathrobe. If anyone saw me they might think I look either neurotic, disturbed or riddled with anxiety. I walk around doing little chores like giving the cats their nightly dry food, preparing the coffee maker for the morning, doing dishes, laundry and sometimes forgetting what I was going to do on the way. I pace trying to think of what I was doing when I got up out of my seat. Where was I going? What was I going to do? This behavior actually has a name: polyphasic behavior. I have read in Dr. Alan Wolfelt's book, Understanding Your Suicide Grief, that this is something that can make a grieving person feel like they are "crazy." He explains it as, "...you start doing something and then, right in the middle of it, you forget what you were doing and start doing something else." I cannot begin to count how often this has happened to me when I am at the grocery store. I would be there for a only a few items, and while walking around get so distracted that I could not remember what I came into the store to purchase. I have tried to get into the habit of writing a list before I go, otherwise I wander aimlessly from section to section trying to remember what I need and picking up things that I don't need. And there have been times when I have aborted the trip altogether while driving to the store. 

I have been doing these polyphasic behaviors since R died. For months I did not know what to do with myself, even though I had hours of nursing schoolwork to do. Every moment of my free time could have been filled with some kind of nursing schoolwork. School will be a sure-way to keep myself from thinking about what has happened. Going to school is the only way I can survive right now. I have to have a reason to get out of bed everyday. My son. I need to do this for my son. I need to go to school to show him that I can still function and not completely fall apart. I floated around my apartment doing a little here, stopping, and moving to something else. I just could not sit down and stay on task for more than about 15 minutes at a time. I would get up and continue my little chores: straightening up  the couch, cleaning up toys, the bathroom, my bedroom, and do some pacing in between. To an outsider I may have looked like a very busy person. I suppose that would be true. My mind was so busy sorting through things that I could not focus on any one thing for very long. I did not realize this until a few weeks ago. After all this time, and reading through the book so much, you would think I could recognize my own behavior. Nope. I have become a student of grief and specifically suicide grief, learning things about myself as my mind slowly returns back to what it was before this trauma happened. Perhaps my brain will never be the same. I am beginning to accept that. I am a new person now. I have undergone a transformation that was forced upon me, but transformed for the better, I think. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Recurring Dreams

Today is my son's birthday. This is his second birthday without his Daddy. I can't help but think of R today. He is missing this. I bought my son his first basketball  hoop. I tried hard as I could, but could not physically get it together by myself. It reminds me of when we bought our son a trampoline for Christmas and were up until 2 am Christmas Eve putting it together. That was a two-man job for sure and also a pleasant memory for me now. These thoughts have been mostly fleeting, until this afternoon. Coming out of a store and walking to my car, I was nearly brought to my knees with flashbacks, both visual and auditory. My heart started to beat faster while my stomach had a horrible sinking feeling; the kind of feeling you get when you know something bad has happened. Mommy why is daddy hanging in the garage I kept hearing; me screaming his name. I could see him there, eyes closed, looking like he was sleeping, mid-air. Perhaps it might have been provoked by this milestone for my son. Apparently, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays can trigger these sorts of things. But I woke up so happy for my son this morning that I thought I would be just fine. Earlier today I was digging around in R's old tool bag, which still retains the faint smell of our garage. Maybe that was the trigger.

Perhaps my psyche was trying to warn me last night when I had a nightmare about a tornado. This is a recurring dream I have when I am right in the middle of something big, an internal conflict - something that I am trying to find peace with. The dream goes like this: I am walking somewhere or arguing with someone when suddenly a tornado is visible in the distance, or a TV news anchor is shouting to take cover. Panic ensues as I try desperately to find a safe place to go while the tornado goes over me. When I find this spot, it is never perfect. But eventually I have to stay there because I run out of time. I brace myself for impact. I can hear whirling, racing wind outside as it comes close, and it either misses me altogether or passes "through" my hiding spot and I come away with not so much as a scratch. The interpretation of this dream (if you believe in such things) is fairly obvious to me: things may be bad right now, and you might be scared, but you will come through the other side unscathed.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflection

It is amazing to me how you can live with someone in the same house (such as your spouse) and not know everything about them. Knowing someone requires communication. Just because you live together does not mean you will automatically maintain intimacy in your relationship.

R. and I were both introverts. I did not know, as I do now, that this can be a bad combination for a marriage. We tend to keep things inside, internalizing it all, until one day it comes blasting out like a volcano. Volcanoes are not good for marriages. They start fires all over the place. This is a dangerous place for a relationship. Too much internalizing, not enough communication can let someone slip through the cracks of mental health. This is one of the reason's why R's death was such a shock. I knew that he was depressed, however, I did not know just how low he had sunk.

One of my mistakes was that I stopped expressing my feelings. The less I expressed my feelings, the more difficult it became to do it. Even the most typical spousal issues (sharing of chores, finances, etc...) were hard for me to put into words. I came to a point where I would try to put it into the simplest most basic sentence I could come up with, such as: I do not like it when ________________ .

The point is, we were both keeping our thoughts and feelings inside to save each other the stress of an argument. But, this backfired completely. It caused more stress for us to hold everything inside and pretend like things were okay, than to have an uncomfortable discussion. As time passed on, we grew further apart due to our busy everyday lives and not making time for our relationship. Soon I didn't know how R. felt about anything. I didn't recognize him anymore. Who was this irritable, angry person? This was not the person I married. And I'm sure he felt the same way about me. I felt that I had turned into a different person, and I was not pleased with myself. I am working on forgiving myself and forgiving R. The guilt that comes with death cannot stay.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Comment Section Open!

I have made adjustments - you can now comment directly on the blog page without having any kind of account. :-)

Corners

I moved to North Carolina in August. Here it is 5 months later and I still have some boxes sitting around my place that have not been emptied or sorted through. The condition of my stuff within my living space is a mirror image of the "stuff" in my head. There are places that are clean and organized, and there are corners and particular spots that need to be sorted out. Some of it is useful. Some of it is garbage. Some of it needs to be shredded into teeny tiny little pieces never to be seen again by anyone. I have waited, saved these boxes and piles of papers for later because I have not had the energy to deal with them. My goal is to get through a little each day. Whatever I can handle.

I am afraid of some of the "stuff" that is in these boxes. I am afraid it will make me feel, and then if I feel something so powerful it will consume me. These boxes hold memories and with memories comes emotions. What do I do with them all? My previous tactic of pushing them away did not work, because here I am, dealing with them. They will re-surface and re-surface until you deal with it. I cannot fool myself with self-talk saying, 
- I'm okay! I really am! I am fine! See how I got through this? 
- Well, Sarah, how DID you get through it? 
- Umm... I don't know...
- That's cause you didn't yet.

Let the emotions come, let them go. If I get lost in my memories and thoughts for a while, it's okay. It will not consume me. I will come back to myself again. Don't be afraid to feel. Sadness can be okay. It will not consume me. It will not dictate the rest of my life. Don't be afraid to feel. Feeling emotions makes you honest with yourself. You cannot know what you really think if you do not let yourself feel. Make your emotions your friends. You can sit with them without being afraid. They are not monsters. You have control of the party. You say when tea time is over and there is nothing more to discuss. Don't be afraid to feel. Let it in and let it go.

The boxes I have here are not even the bulk of what I have to sort through. Because as soon as I get through these, I have 15 more waiting for me at my parent's house and a storage garage full of items to deal with. It is daunting and scary. I can stand in the middle of the room just looking at the boxes and feel over-whelmed. They are full of questions: What do I do with this? What do I do with that? Should I keep it? Would someone else want it? Would my son want it? Should I donate it? Will I regret giving it away later? Would R. want me to keep it? All these questions create fear and anxiety in me. It helps to remember that they are THINGS. Material things. Love has nothing to do with material items. I believe love is the only energy that transcends everything. And if that is so, then R. would not care what I keep and don't keep. A simple truth remains that the longer I wait to deal with my stuff, the longer it will take for me to find peace.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quiet Time

Frequently, I find that I am in need of quiet time, meaning either being in silence, or being in the midst of a quiet noise level that I can handle. Many times I go to a coffee shop expecting to hear quiet conversation among jingles and tinkles of cups and silverware. That's the kind of noise I can handle; I can still keep track of my own thoughts. Although, this is not always what I encounter. Sometimes it's full of loud conversations, "background music" which is actually in the foreground, invading my thoughts because I know the words to the song. People meeting up with each other and excitedly yelling, "Hey! Hi! I haven't see you in so long!" Or "Oh hi! Fancy meeting you here!" Then they proceed to sit down and take over my quiet space.  This makes me feel irritable.

 I am an introvert and I need quiet in order to process just exactly what I have been through. When I need to concentrate on my own thoughts and am not able to, I get irritated. Unfortunately this happens a lot with my son. He is a normal five year old boy who makes noise playing and jumps off the furniture. I cannot think when this is going on so, I join him; well, not to jump off the furniture. But, I try to take my mind off of my grief and trauma by interacting with him. Playing. It is difficult when the very person you love most in the world shares the DNA of the one who was lost. My son is a constant reminder that R is gone and of how he died.

Sometimes playing with my son for 15-20 minutes is all that is needed for him to be satisfied with my company, and then I can go back and try to read, think, or write. Sometimes it's all I need as well, to give my brain a break so that I can go back to it again without being irritable. It doesn't always make it go away completely. But it is an attempt.

I believe the reason for the irritability is that there is not room for much else in my brain right now, except to process this journey. I go back to day 1 (the day that R killed himself), I go through everything that happened that afternoon and evening, all the way until the end of the week when the funeral happened. Then I keep going chronologically through the major events that happened the year after. All of the "firsts" without R. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, getting  my own apartment, trying to get through nursing school, failing nursing school, moving to another state, failing again...the list goes on as my life goes on. Many times I ask myself how I got to where I am today in this town- and I go back over those events in my head, over and over again. When I think about my life, there is a distinct line I have drawn: a before IT happened and after IT happened. My life is separated into this divide.