Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Toll

If there is one thing I have learned over the last 6 years it is this, grief is exhausting. I know I have talked about grief before, but since my Mother passed I have just been dealing with so much of it. I am not sure how most people feel, but the following has been my experience. 

Some days I find it hard to simply get out of bed and get dressed. These waves of fatigue wash over me, often for no particular reason. Eventually I allow my mind to "go there" to that place when all of life changed in an instant. Try as I might, I can never erase that moment in time. Why?  Because that was the moment part of my heart left me. I felt it. I felt what it was like to have part of myself die and from that point forward I just struggle

I did a little research and discovered that doctors now recognize grief as "real" -- the overwhelming fatigue is part of a daily tug-of-war we have. Part of us has died. It's impossible to explain to others, only those who have shared the same experiences can understand. We can sympathize with others, but until we have experienced what they have we can never really know what they are going through. I remember around 8 years ago I knew a young woman who had a miscarriage. My heart broke for her and I was sad, but I had no idea what she was going through, now I do.  In fact I know that pain 3 times over.  Up until this past December when I would hear of someone's mother passing away, I was sad and heartbroken for them, but now I know what it was truly like for them. I am there, I understand, I can sympathize with them.  All that being said this post is not about knowing how others feel or "walking a mile in their shoes", it is simply about what grief has done to me. 

Grief has turned me into a new person, a woman that I no longer recognize in the mirror. 

I have been changed physically.

I can see those new little wrinkles that have appeared on my face. I can see the lost, forlorn look in my eyes. I can see that somewhere there is still that optimistic, wide eyed little girl I used to be, but I can't seem to bring her back. Don't get me wrong there are times when she there. It may be laughing with the kids, creating something new with my youngest, date night with my hubby or just talking with my oldest. In those times I can forget the hurt, sorrow and heartache I feel. The only problem is those times do not last. Eventually the old me is gone, and the new one reappears. 

I have also been changed mentally. 

My thought processes are not the same. It takes me longer to get my thoughts together and at times I lose complete train of thought and disappear into my memories. I have more trouble concentrating on getting through the day. To say that I sometimes suffer from complete brain shutdown would be a true statement.  I often find myself staring off into space, not day dreaming, just shutdown from it all. 

Ways to overcome these changes:

There are a couple of things I have discovered to help with my mental changes. The first is that the routine, mundane things of daily life can help. You don't need a lot of brain power while folding laundry or washing dishes, so I tend to let it rest during those times. I relish in the simple little things that the day holds. It is then I can allow my brain the time it needs to continue healing. I have also found that creativity helps my brain to rest. I am sure that sounds funny, but instead of being shutdown to everything, it is just shut down to the world around me and I am able to focus all my thinking on the task at hand. I may be blogging, brainstorming for my novel that I want to write, or even helping the kids with projects. My youngest daughter loves to create worlds for her dolls, so I spend a lot of time helping her with her creative plans. 

The only things I have found to counter effect the physical changes are: exercise,plenty of rest, and good nutrition, all of which we should be doing for ourselves anyway. Also, a little facial pampering will not hurt. I don't really know if any of that stuff makes a difference in the long run, but I do know that if it makes you feel good to pamper your skin, then do it. 

Ultimately the only things we can really do during our grief journey is look after ourselves. We know how much our body can take and when we have met our limits.  I will benefit us all to step back from our daily lives, if only for a few minutes and take that break. If for you that means doing yoga, reading in quiet or even hiding in the closet eating chocolate (yes I have done that), then do it.  After all we can only take care of our families by first taking care of ourselves. 

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"

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