Grief’s surprising physical effects / lazy Mel

One thing that took me by surprise is the lack of physical endurance I now have. Sitting on my bum without motivation to do anything has taken its toll.

I have rekindled my social life, and had a wonderful weekend seeing friends. One night, Tyler and I went for dinner then a game of pool with a wonderful couple. We didn’t park that far from the restaurant, but the combined walking, standing and pool-playing made me feel very tired. The next morning, my feet hurt, and I could feel it in my legs.

Seriously!

I’m finding it a bit funny that some of the effects of grieving is having a soft, mushy, weak body. In my pre Henry-loss life, I wasn’t athletic by a long stretch, but I generally walked a lot, went swimming occasionally, and spent drastically less time just sitting around.

I try to get myself out for a short walk once a day. I don’t always get around to it, but it’s always on my mind. I know exercise makes me feel good, but I find it really hard to get the will to interrupt my slow, comfortable day to exert myself.

I’m hoping that will change. Years ago, I was an avid jogger, was very fit and felt good, so consequently, I looked good! I hate jogging now, and I have to stop trying to convince myself that I’ll take it up again with the same fervour I once had.

I also know that exercise helps with stress, makes you sleep better, is really good for you, yadda yadda. And if a weekend without much physical exertion has me pooped, then maybe I should try harder to move a little more every day so that I can incorporate that into my new normal. Oooh, but being lazy is so much EASIER!!!!!!!! *sigh.

 

My life as a ciché

I have always scoffed at cliches and generalizations. You can’t lump a life’s experience into a few simple catch phrases, and you can’t assume anything about anyone else’s life, minimizing their joys and pains to something that can be more easily digested by others who probably have no clue how you really feel.

But occasionally these very arbitrary socially acceptable nicknacks can help you stay afloat when life’s circumstances are too unimaginably painful to look straight in the face. Like losing a close friend, a parent, a child, a beloved pet, your home.

So here’s a couple that have been swimming around my mind that I have accepted as true for me, right now.

It’s the little things that count. There are only little things. That’s most of what life is, I find. Little changes that accumulate to become significant shifts as time goes on. I realized this last night when I reached for my head massager that’s always on my nightstand, right next to my box of tissues. The tissue box is the closest thing to my head as I sleep, but last night, when I took up my massager for the first time in a dog’s age, I switched both of them around. Now, the massager is closest to me. It’s a small thing – just one of a small avalanche of changes that are probably taking place that I pay no heed.

Tissue box = always crying = living in continuous pain and grief. Head massager = relaxation = relief = closer to peace, and now, physically closer to me. This little thing has some significance, and I only recently noticed it, and I accept it as an important event.

Fake it ’til you make it. There is no.way. I will ever be okay with my child being dead. Never.ever.ever.ever.EVER. I could choose to stay and wallow in my misery. I’d be within my rights if I never left my house again, never saw friends again, never tried at life again. I would also be within my rights to never smile again, never be happy again. But that’s not how I am. Despite this shit storm, I’ve managed to laugh with honesty, smile with sincerity, and find moments of happiness and contentment despite living in a veritable, unbelievable hell. These moments don’t happen every day, and normally, I would find this catch-phrase a dishonest way to go about life. But I’ve been drawn to it, I seem to be hearing it everywhere, and I can see how it could be good advice in some situations.

How faking it until you make it works.

Most days, I am sad, irritable, unhappy. But I’m starting to feel ready to push myself just a tiny bit, at my own pace, and i see an opportunity to really test how this will go with Christmas not far off. While I’m nervous about the holidays, and have nothing to celebrate this year, I’m going to fake it. It’s an important time of the year for my partner and his family, so for Tyler, I’ll put on a brave smile and go through the motions of happiness and celebration. I’ll choose not to forsake the living for the memory of the dead. I’m still going to be sad. Very sad. Which is why it’s called faking it. It won’t be sincere happiness. It won’t be genuine laughter. I’m going to be artificial, shallow, and just do it to get it over with, but then maybe, over time, my fake emotions might convince me that I might actually be having a good time. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

Time heals all wounds. This is very similar to what I just wrote about faking it. I’ll never be truly happy, for reasons that are obvious to me. It hasn’t even been two months since we said goodbye to Henry, but I’ve managed to crawl out of bed to feed the bunnies, eat because I was hungry, and shower because I knew it would make me feel good. I went for a massage, saw a clairvoyant, and ate chocolate because I liked it and these things brought me comfort. I actually craved comfort. This is only possible with the passage of time – bringing me both farther away, and closer to my son. My pain feels less raw, my wounds not as fresh. I’m gently pushed along as the days pass by. If I had the choice, I would forever be in the delivery room, holding my child, but that’s not the way things work. I’m here now, feeling less fragile over time. It’s not a staircase of progression, though – it’s an evolving circle, so I know I will revisit misery. It’s just becoming a familiar, Everest-sized bump in my healing journey that gets less devastating to re-climb as time goes on.

Keep you baby away from me

I truly am very happy for you and all of your healthy babies – really I am, but stay away from me (for now).

I save my daily walks for nighttime because the chances of running in to children and babies in strollers is significantly diminished. When I see little boys especially, I get punched in the heart.

Seeing babies makes me feel like I’ll never have that. Looking at pictures of friends who have babies (a lesson in torture) bewilders me. I’m so surprised now to see healthy, alive babies. The thought that I’ll ever be able to make one of them is unfathomable right now. I feel like my womb is a cursed place where only sick babies destined for death can grow for a short while. I feel like my subsequent pregnancies are all doomed to miscarriage, to stillbirth, to SIDS, to genetic disease.

Logic ramble: Yes, of course, I know that I may have healthy babies in the future. But I also know that it’s a risk. I know how many pregnancies fail, and I know genetic hiccoughs are more common than we suspect. I also know that I really am happy for you and your birth – you are very lucky parents, and I hope to join you one day. And this is a lot coming from someone who spent most of her life saying she never wanted kids.  Oh, how life turns tricks on us.

I know this post makes me sound crazy, but that’s my feeling for the day. I’ve spent a month grieving after what I thought was a healthy pregnancy, for five whole months. And of course, I do not want to offend anyone who has a child. I’m sorry if you feel offended. But I honestly don’t know when I’ll feel comfortable being around other people’s babies.

Am I jealous? Of course I am! And I judge myself for knowing this is petty and selfish, so I’m putting this out there knowing full-well that this is a post that might offend some of you. And this self-judging and feeling bad for writing this post isn’t healthy for me. But putting this out there is right, because I know, with 10000000% certainty, that I’m not the only bereaved parent who has thoughts and feelings like this. So I write it for you who are in this boat with me.

– Crazy woman out.

Gratitude through grief

When I lost my dad eight years ago, I was a daughter mourning her father. My mother was mourning her husband, and my grandmother/aunt/cousins mourned him in their own way according to the relationship they had with him.

As I mourn Henry’s death, I feel so fortunate to be grieving the loss of the same relationship with my partner. I hate having something so painful in common with him, but we draw a lot of comfort from each other. He has been my rock, and a constant source of love and support.

We’re together, but separate, mourning in our own individual ways. Some people pour themselves in to work to restore a sense of control and normalcy after something as devastating as losing a child. My partner had no choice but to start working pretty much right away because of deadlines, etc. I can’t do that, but I’m lucky to be a freelance writer with a bit of cash in the bank to help me coast for a little while. This means I don’t have to rush back to a job if I’m not ready, and my editors are kind enough to give me the time I need to feel ready to write professionally again (if any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart).

I rely on my fingers to fly across the keyboard for my livelihood. But in the first days after learning Henry’s diagnosis, and the days following his delivery and death, I couldn’t make sense of my computer. I misspelled everything, got confused, and just closed up shop, only writing to a few friends to tell them the news. I let go of all of my commitments (even a beloved pottery class), and just existed (I don’t mean to sound like this is in past-tense… I’m still just a breathing, sitting blob).

Through the past two weeks, I have also been floored by the graciousness and generosity of my friends and family. This has been, without a doubt, the most difficult time of my life.

This post is about other things that I am thankful for.

We received a beautiful bouquet flowers from my old workplace, and I don’t know how many meals from friends and family, left innocently on our front porch. And I thank you for each fork-full that I didn’t have to cook myself, each kind thought, and every card that has passed through our door.

Thank you DSF

I’m also very appreciative of my friends, who have been so kind and decent as to leave my partner and I in peace with our pain. We haven’t received any surprise drop-in visits or any mournful, uncomfortable phone calls. We’re still not ready, but we’re getting there, and we thank you so much for your patience while we stay in our cocoon.

We have literally been hiding, spending days in bed. I feel that I’ve made some progress because I’ve been camping out on the sofa rather than our bed – which is getting kindof grimy and full of crumbs. But we’re exhausted, even though our days are very sedentary.

I’m also trying to find the motivation to take care of myself now that I no longer have a baby to keep me eating healthy and exercising. While I was pregnant, Henry gave me every motivation for self-maintenance, like flossing and eating veggies and completely cutting out coffee and wine.

Now that my belly is empty, I find it hard to care whether I eat in a day, floss, or do other regular self-maintenance tasks. I’m thankful for my mom, who has gently urged me to speak with my naturopath to make sure I don’t go completely off the rails, and who is arranging that I get a massage eventually. Maybe one day in the far distant future, I’ll even get a hair cut and go for a walk in the day time.

Lastly, I’m very thankful to whoever is reading my blog. It is my hope that other grieving parents, no matter how you lost your child, reads these so that they feel they’re not alone.

With love and gratitude,

Mel