Friday, July 31, 2009

This business of grief

My hair is falling out.

Nothing crazy-- mom warned me that it might happen a few months ago, with all of the hormones doing crazy stuff, and I thought I might have gotten out of it. No such luck-- it's coming out in the shower in long strands of mostly red, lately. Sigh. Oh well. I have a ton of hair, so it'll be alright.

But it's just one more thing to add to my list of things to feel sorry for myself about, and I wonder why I don't see "self pity" in Kubler-Ross's stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I don't know. Maybe it's part of the "depression" stage. Here is what one site says the stages might look like:

Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

Hm. Okay, so I am surrounded by wise people. My father is a counselor. I know that I will go through all of these stages, not necessarily in order and some of them more than once. But, while I'd read these stages before Ben, today they look completely different to me. They're just...true. I mean, there's more, but they're true. And you feel completely insane going through them sometimes.

For instance.

Yesterday, I was completely exhausted-- I've been surprised at how exhausting just being around people has been, honestly. I'm an extrovert, but I'm on people overload. Maybe because I really do feel emotionally unstable at times-- like I could cry at any moment. I can keep it together pretty well, but this...ugh...sadness is just always under everything, even when I feel good, and I can't ever tell when it's going to really grab me. Anyway, that's exhausting; always being afraid that I'm going to fall apart.

Then I'm physically tired, too. I read on a couple of the sites that this is part of the grief process, too-- grief manifesting in physical aches and pains. The week of pre-planning is exhausting for everyone, whether they've been hit by an emotional truck or not. Plus, I'm just getting used to being back at work. Anyway, so I'm tired, too.

After a series of events, I got home yesterday afternoon (back/pelvis ache; fight with Don over something so unimportant I can't even recall it; got a speeding ticket when I was NOT speeding, etc.) and was a basket case. I went back to my bed and lay down on it and wept like it was April 28 all over again. Deep, crazy-woman crying. Begging God, even though I know that it is not possible, to please change His mind about this whole thing. Begging Him to please fix it-- to go back in time and re-do everything, please please. I'd do whatever He wanted me to do. Why was He mad at me? I'm so sorry for whatever it was I did, etc. etc.

That's where the pity party comes in.

My little boat bounces between acceptance and bargaining mostly, I think, but depression/sadness hits hard sometimes.

Before this season, I never truly understood how people walked through this process. I mean, as an empathetic and fairly nice person, I understood that everyone has a right to grieve-- these things made good intellectual sense to me, but...oh how do I explain it?... I did not truly understand that people were not just emotionally moving through the stages. I did not understand that there is something in your head that is fighting sanity when you pray, "Oh God, please change your mind." You know that your child is in an urn or a casket. You know that he or she is gone. But this cry climbs out anyway, even while your brain is shaking its head, saying, "Um... hey, you know, this thing you're asking?..." You kind of can't help it... it comes gushing out, if you let it: "Please, Lord...bring him back to life."

And there it is. The world's most insane prayer.

I was lying on the bed, weeping like it had all happened yesterday-- I thought I had tapped out that kind of grief. I thought that all happened at the beginning and slowed down after a couple of weeks, but it doesn't. It's not 100% of the time, but for me, it has happened a few times (crazy, loud, can't-breathe-and-when-will-it-stop crying) and there is no end to the feeling. You just sort of have to wipe your face and be done for now. Life has gone on. Your husband needs you. Your family needs you. You can't lie on this bed and weep forever.

But it's such a compelling thought. Especially-- am I out of my mind?-- when I think about the fact that the Lord hears my prayers, my weeping, and He's in heaven...can Ben hear me? Does he hear that I miss him? Am I touching him somehow with my grief?

I told you that I sounded off my rocker.

And I know I'm not crazy-- it's just that grief does this thing to you.... Why isn't there a "Completely Idiotic" step to the grief process?

But it's just so weird, getting used to permanent loss. Permanent loss. I will have other children, or at least another child, but he... he's gone. It's like trying to make your brain comprehend eternity: you can't! It overwhelms you and it's kind of a fun way to freak yourself out. This loss is similar to that in a way. There's no comprehending it. No changing it. No end to it. It will never be okay.

So, the grief steps: I'm not in denial. If I was in denial, somebody would need to call the funny farm FAST because I can see Ben's urn from here....many indisputable facts, here. Depression. Yes, I could be dealing with some depression, but only if depression can come and go and still be depression. I'm not physically hugging the floor with weeping all the time. I can function and talk about things-- even Ben-- without crying or even tearing up. Anger. Yes, I'm a bit angry. But not violently angry. I get a little upset with God. I feel like I want to get angry, for sure, but there's no one to aim it at, so it falls away pretty fast. Bargaining-- in those crying sessions, where I feel like I can't breathe with the weight of it, I definitely do some bargaining. Of course, I know it's useless (which is when a sense of depression kicks in). And acceptance?

Acceptance is a funny word. If it means that I believe that this thing has happened, then yes, I have accepted it. If it means that I am alright with it, then no, I have not accepted it. So I'm sane. I've got that going for me.

OH, this business of grief. I feel so frustrated sometimes. I would pull my hair out if it weren't already jumping off my head on its own...


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