Tuesday, January 08, 2013

All of Me

Common symptoms of grief

While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal – including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.

  • Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
  • Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
  • Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
  • Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
  • Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
  • Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.

I am all of that at once.  According to the article, I am experiencing major depression, and I'm still having panic attacks.

Most of all, I cannot imagine life without John.  I buried my head in the sand and expected only good things to come.  I've known that loss can trigger intense emotions, but I always put the possibility out of my mind.  I guess that's why I was sure that John wasn't having a heart attack in 2010.  That's why I thought he'd be fine recently.

I was begining to think that the problems I'm having was out of the ordinary, but it seems they're not.  The panic attacks, the inability to work, not wanting to eat, crying, pleading, wishing, yelling.. all common, and there's no telling how long it will last.  Medications can't just turn that stuff off, and it's not very healthy if they did.

I know I'm going to have to work.. or at least fake it well, but six months from now, I may still wake in the morning and start crying because John isn't beside me.  Apparently that's not unusual, although the frequency and intensity should lessen over time.  If it doesn't ease over time, it's called 'complicated grief'.

I've had some rough periods in my life.  Everyone does.  This is different.  I know I need help to survive. I still need to make an appointment with a psychiatrist.  I'll do that tomorrow.  MaryBeth and I are seeing another attorney tomorrow to see if there's anything can be done about John's estate.  It's not likely.

The only peace I have now is when I'm asleep.  I sleep a lot, but not in long stretches. My hands still shake.

I spent some time reading about other people who have lost a spouse.  I see stories identical to mine.  The inability to work, or really function, the crying multiple times a day, and sometimes out in public.. the panic, the sadness, the physical pain in the body.

I read the story of a CPA who's wife died of cancer.  He knew she was going to die - not sudden.  It took him about a year before he started feeling less stricken by her passing.  He had more people around him than I do.  I really have no one but the dogs.

I can't imagine being this way for a year or more.  I just can't.  I can't do it.

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