Monday, September 26, 2016

on grief: fatigue, anxiety and overwhelmedness

The first day I went out by myself to run an errand, I was asked how the baby was doing.  I knew this could happen.  That's why I'd waited a month to run an errand alone.  Last time I'd gone places, I'd been 38 weeks pregnant.  6 weeks later, it's an appropriate question for someone to ask.  I still stumbled over my words a bit.  It was a really uncomfortable encounter.  I hate that on top of everything I have to feel frustrated for making people feel uncomfortable.  I wish these innocent questions were not met with sad, unexpected answers.

The interaction was completely awkward, as she continued to compare my loss to the 'loss' of her daughter as she was getting older.  I wasn't even upset from the interaction.  I felt bad for her.  You wouldn't believe how many times these kind of comparisons are made as people grapple with the right words to say.  (I'll give you some words: "I'm sorry.  I'm praying for you.  I'm reminded of your child when ____."   Please, please remember that you don't have to try to bring yourself into it, especially by comparing.)

I felt exhausted.  The errand took just a few minutes to do, and afterwards I came home and just sat for over an hour.  I had a book in my hand, but I couldn't even focus to read.  I just sat.  Exhausted, fatigued, overwhelmed.  Not upset, not even emotional.  Just sat like a statue until I looked at the clock again and realized how much time had passed.

This is what grief does.  You could ask what I did this week, and I can't account for my time.  I move through a thick pudding of life, and things like laundry (for 2 people) feel like a large task for the day.  So, I break it into small tasks.  Little, controllable moments of the day.  Perhaps how someone in their 90s would do it.  Put laundry in.  Sit down.  Read a bit.  Load the dishwasher.  Check the mail.  Sit down again.  Correspond on facebook or texts.  Watch a show.  Drink some tea.  Sit and zone out again.

Not all days are like this, but the days where I'm perhaps recovering from something emotional and my brain needs space to do recovery (doctor appointment, anniversary date of something, unexpected interactions).

I've never struggled with anxiety, but learned more about it after Clive passed.  It took at least 6 months to go to the grocery store without having intense anxiety.  Even after a year, it was still so exhausting for me to do it.  Changing from a pretty busy, capable person to one who has to rest after short errands has been a hard adjustment.  It's frustrating, and it's another thing that I feel I've lost--a part of myself (again).  It will get easier someday, just as it did last time, but it's still hard to feel so unlike your old self.

I still can't bring myself to go do much of anything.  It's hard because it's emotional for me and it's entering uncontrolled situations and interactions.  Going places that I haven't been since I was pregnant, I am reminded by the happiness of pregnancy, the sadness now, and even some measure of shame in having empty arms.   I want to avoid people and interactions while I'm out, mostly because I want to avoid interactions like the one last week.  Yet, I don't want my loss to go unnoticed by people.  Goodness, I'm a challenge!

For now, I'm sitting tight with some close friends (some here, some in an amazing support network online).  Being around big groups, families, kids, pregnant people, and babies will probably be really hard for me for a long time.  I grieve that, because I would love to be around everyone and be able to fully enjoy everyone.  This is a season of rest, waiting, and grieving, as much as I'd wish for it to be a season of something else.  It's hard to see purpose or value in this season, but I'm sure there is somehow.  And even if I wanted to jump back into 'normal' life, my emotions, fatigue, and anxiety would soon put a stop to that.

You can be praying for us in this season.  It looks different for me and Sam, as he's been back to work for a couple weeks now.   I don't have a job to go back to (not that I have a capacity go back even if I wanted to).  My days were scheduled out to be filled with raising a newborn, and now it's hard to find purpose to them.  I don't have energy or capacity to completely fill my days with work or interactions with people, yet I long for something meaningful in my time.  Starting doing something new is overwhelming, and returning back to anything old is overwhelming.  I have little things to do to fill my days (reading, writing, yardwork, projects, art, seeing friends--they all pale in comparison, of course), and I'll slowly add to it as I'm able, but it's a challenge to have plans completely pulled out from under my feet.  I'm sure God will reveal many things in this season, and in our lives moving forward.  It's so very early yet.  I don't need suggestions on things to fill my time.  I don't need job offers.  I know so many of you would love to fix this, but there really is nothing that could take the place of raising my little girl.  Thanks, anyway!  You can pray.

A sweet reminder from some friends.  He will sustain.  


1 comment:

  1. Your family continues to weigh so heavily on my heart. I know we are "strangers" but your story doesn't sound so strange to me, and I just want you to know I have read your brave words and I hear you. I am so devastated for you. And I will try to genuinely remember to pray for you (not just say I will!)

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