The shock and pain that comes with losing a child is indescribable. Your whole world has been turned upside down, and the foundation that your life is on, all your beliefs about life and yourself is shattered. Slowly, you have to rebuild that foundation. It’s possible to rebuild a new foundation filled with the great loss you have along with the life you have left to live, but it takes time, moment by moment.
In the early days, it really is moment by moment. Sometimes one minute I was bawling, the next minute I was fine. It’s such a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. I just wanted to write about some common responses after a death that happen. Our brains are so shocked with what has happened, I think it takes a long time to start to come out of the fog.
Grieving your child is really a full body experience. Your emotional, mental, and physical health can be tested and strained to a great extent. Remember just about anything is possible in grief, and you are not going crazy. It’s hard to understand how deep the hole really is, until you are experiencing the loss of your own child.
Mental fogginess and difficulty remembering things. Recalling names, moments, and urgent things that needed to be done was beyond me. I felt like all I was saying all the time were things like, “I can’t remember”, and “my brain is so fried I don’t know”.
Reduced concentration. Reading books and long things can be hard. I tried reading many books, as I was given many different books about grief. But I could not every finish one. I don’t think I read full through any of the books, because I could not concentrate on them.
Difficulty organizing and scheduling things. I don’t know how many bills went unpaid after Aria died. We had so many late fees, because I could not keep track of what was what. Things that seem simple like organizing a grocery list and going to the store, are very difficult tasks, and sometimes you might wonder what is wrong with you, because you can’t even do that! I assure you though, it’s very normal to not be able to function and easily grocery shop. Lots of times, it’s impossible to do things that were so easy to you before.
Sleep might become hard. Either in the way that you sleep all the time and can’t get out of bed, or that you have a hard time sleeping. Whatever sleep patterns you had before, will probably be changed into something different. My sleep was greatly affected because Brilynn was born and I was terrified of her dying in her sleep as well. But it can be affected by anxiety, depression, or anything else that keeps you up.
Eating habits can change. Eating more food than you had before out of stress and anxiety, or eating less or no food, because you can’t stomach anything because of stress and anxiety. I had a pit in my stomach that seemed like it would never go away. When it was there, it was hard to eat much.
It’s very common to get some physical sickness afterwards. The stress and emotional load that our bodies go through is unbelievable. I had a few moments of sickness after Aria died, that I don’t know if I necessarily attributed to what I was going through, but I’m positive they were from my body giving out under the stress. One was where my whole face started going numb- from exhaustion and anxiety. The other was where I ended up in the Emergency Room trying to figure out what was going on. I don’t even remember what happened for sure- I just know my Mom and Dad took our boys on their trip with them so I could try get better(thanks Mom and Dad <3).
It really is a roller coaster of emotions, physical, and mental waves that you didn’t even know existed. I really think there is just about anything that is not normal in grief. Everything that once was, is now not. So as you navigate this new life and learning to live with grief, be kind and gentle with yourself. You have experienced something horrific, and know you are not alone in all these things that happen.
All these experiences right away made me feel like I was going crazy. I didn’t know what was going on with me. I was losing my mind, losing control on my life, and I felt like a failure at keeping my family safe.
As I learned more about grief and the purpose grief has in our honoring and loving our child that is gone, I’ve learned to accept what I was experiencing as normal. Fun? No, but a very real and true part of grief that I was not the only one experiencing.
I hope you find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. I hope you are able to see the pain you are feeling as a way to honor and love your child. You can embrace it and let it be a part of you. Above, I hope you can take one step today to take care of yourself. What have you experienced? Have you noticed the grief fog and mental fogginess? Any physical symptoms?