As I pour over my medical records that have been compiled in the past few years and read highlighted diagnosis such at “Anxiety” “Depression” “PTSD” I am left feeling kind of empty and thinking to myself how did this all come to be? I recall myself as a young girl full of promise and adventure and now Im fifty years old and unable to work. Is that who I am now ? The grieving Mom?
I could easily continue to go down this road of thought and spiral into the story of my life and go further down the hole of despair. But as I sit and reflect deeper I interrupt that train of thought. I know that the medical profession misses the mark in their narrow minded view of MY state of being.
When we lose our children are the feeling we are left with really depression? Do I have “Anxiety”? I’m not so sure. I have been depressed in my life several times and it does not feel the same. It’s been four years on this journey of loss. This journey is tricky – full of emotional turmoil and deceptions of the mind. I have learned that our minds are not accurate. Our minds can keep us captive if we allow it – if we believe our thoughts to be true.
In the beginning of losing Rehtaeh I felt like I could not catch my breathe . I literally could not take a full breath. I felt that life would never return to “normal”. Guess what? Life has not returned to normal. Everyone’s life around me did but my life seemed to revolve around my worst nightmare – losing my child. Some nights I would dream of her and in the dream it was all a very big mistake. Rehtaeh was alive and it was all a big mistake. Then I would wake up to my reality.
Life will always be marked at “before Rehtaeh left” and “after Rehtaeh left”
Showing kindness to myself through out this entire journey has been one of my blessings. Knowing that I can count on “myself” to be loving and patient has been miraculous. It’s not an easy endeavor but it’s been my number one strategy – self love. We hear the phrase a lot but actually putting it in to practice has been amazing. How do we love our self? First we must “know” who we are –not some definition of who someone says we are – including the medical profession.
In loving myself I have discovered that allowing those awful feelings to rise is kindness. I am there to greet them with love. During the times when I feel like “Oh no! Really? I thought we were past this feeling of dread” I remind myself “it’s OKAY to feel this! Its going to be OK” . It’s natural to want to feel better and remain feeling better for extended periods of time. We want to “overcome our trauma” and move forward. We are told that’s how grief works so why oh why do such painful feelings keep coming back?
Just when I think that I’m going to be okay and feel a sense of “lightness” in my essence the dread can arrive in an instant. It’s so frustrating and can sometimes wear me down emotionally. Some days it feels like there is a heavy sign on my forehead that reads “Pain and Suffering live here!” This week I am having these emotions.
After a full week of vacation with my family and feeling normal in that I was able to participate in life by being active and doing lots of activities.
Engaging with people on a daily basis – being present in life.
I laughed and meant it! I felt the warmth of the southern sun and truly felt what it was like to participate in life as the warm ocean waves pushed at me to “feel” the beauty surrounding me. I watched my children experience things for the first time and felt a sense of joy. I knew during those days that I would be okay. However, I have been here before. That’s one benefit of the passage of time – the patterns emerge.
I arrived back from vacation -wake the next day to feelings of complete exhaustion/ physical pain in my body followed by deep sorrow and longing for Rehtaeh. The grief was displaced temporarily but is this feeling Depression? Is it Anxiety? In reality it’s all part of the process – a process that many do not understand when it comes to child loss. I want to feel more energetic and engaged in life on a regular basis but that has not been my experience. I still long for solitude and find too much activity emotionally draining.
For now I am grateful I was able to have a full week of adventure (especially for my girls) and now it’s time to express that self- love . I do not want to judge my pain. I want to nurture all that arrives on this journey. Love is the only way forward.
Love and Pain can live together!