Life is so different after the loss of a child. In the beginning, you experience acute, raw pain from the shock of their death. From there, you move into a state of long term shock that clouds your mind. The pain is there along with the shock, and each day is a struggle just to get out of bed. And once you do get out of bed, you’re hit with the reality all over….every single day…and the sobs that escape from your soul are guttural…a cry that I have never experienced before. It’s a cry that is hard to explain….it literally takes your breath away and your chest heaves with each wail of pain. I’ve heard people say that the second year is harder than the first, but I’m not sure about that. Grief is an ever changing entity that throws you into different phases without any warning. It is a relentless onslaught of the most intense emotions I’ve ever felt. I’m 2 1/2 years in and I’ve learned that there is never an end to the grief…only different aspects of the grieving process that are continually changing.
Where am I now? Well, it’s almost as if I walk around in a haze these days…not shock….but almost a new kind of shock. I go throughout my days, continuing on with life, as we all do. But there is a shadow that constantly follows me….and that shadow is the reality of my loss. This haze sometimes gives the impression that I’m “getting over it” as one family friend stated earlier in the week. It seems that way, because I’ve started doing more than I have in a while….I do have more good days than bad at this point. But I’m not really sure if it’s that the days are good or if it’s just that I’m blocking my feelings so that they aren’t seen by others. Whatever it may be, even if it appears that I’m “doing well”, the shadow of loss still follows me. Even when I’m smiling, there are reminders everywhere I turn. And those reminders, create a haze around me…so that I don’t feel what my heart wants me to feel. Those reminders still take me to my knees some days, but it seems that the haze is my new defense mechanism against the pain. It’s strange how your body and mind create their own ways of dealing with heartache…and it’s continually changing. I guess it changes to protect you so that you don’t lose your mind.
There have been many days since we lost Aaron that I truly have felt like I was going crazy. After losing a child, you have to redefine everything in your life. So, not only are you grieving the loss of your precious child, but you are grieving the loss of your family the way that it was…because everything you once knew has forever changed. Family dynamics must be redefined…your place in a world that doesn’t understand…friendships and relationships must be redefined…and let me tell you, that is some of the hardest work I’ve ever had to do. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do or chose to do…it was something that I was forced to do. And in the midst of trying to process the magnitude of your loss, you must also face the challenge of figuring out who you are, who your family is now, and how you will make it through this world. Now that I think about it that way, there’s no wonder that I felt like I was going crazy.
It’s been hard for me lately to share my feelings or to even think about my loss. It’s almost as if the haze has surrounded me, sort of like denial….strange, huh, that after 2 1/2 years that I would say that I’m in denial….a form of self preservation I guess…that’s the only thing I can think of. This journey never gets easier, because it constantly ebbs and flows like ocean tides. You just learn how to ride the waves the best you can and wish for better days ahead.