finding happiness in everything

Posts tagged ‘Grief’

Round & Round – PTSD


Over the last month I’ve noticed the flashbacks coming more often. There’s nothing that provokes them that I can determine. With the increased frequency, each scene becomes more vivid & even if there are variances in them, it’s always his last few hours alive that play over & over in my head.

There are so many emotions in those last hours…mine…his…the kids. Thoughts about what he said to each child, reactions to his words to them. “You’re making too much noise. Daddy loves you. Go to your room & be really quiet.” Why?

Why won’t it stop? It’s driving me mad 😦 Each flashback brings sadness, worry, pain, tears, anxiety & anger.

Why? It’s been 3 years & 9 months since it happened! Why do I remember it more vividly than giving birth to our children? Why?

I have no answers. All why’s? are rhetorical. No one can answer.

I hate PTSD. I hate these flashbacks. I hate not remembering good things & just his death.

I’m struggling again 😦 I think I need to go see the doctor. I haven’t talked to him about PTSD since January of 2012. I should be better…I should be over the traumatic event.

Those last few hours…I hear his voice more now. I can see him in my mind clearly. He wants my daddy to baptize him. He waited until the end & now he wants to be baptized. His arm hurts, so he keeps raising it above his head to stretch it out.

He cried. It’s the first time in 14 years I’ve seen him cry & it’s breathtakingly pitiful. He didn’t want his mother to leave. He’s tired & lays down to rest. Unaware of his bodily state, he urinated in the bed. He asks me to help him move to the couch, but doesn’t tell me he wet the bed. He was 50. That would have embarrassed him. He’s so very tired. He says he’s going to nap & I go answer the phone. He didn’t want me to.

“Let the damn phone ring”, he says. I explain that I must. It’s his daughters. They’ve been calling for over an hour. They’re worried. I need to give them an update. “Take the battery out of it Chrissy”, he pleads. But, I couldn’t resist. I just had to answer that phone. Stupid me!! After a few minutes on the phone I hear him…he’s gurgling 😦

Couldn’t breathe. The mass over his lungs burst. He was drowning in his own blood. Throw phone. Scream!!! Call 911. Idiot answers. The rest I’ve already written about before, so why rehash it?

Why remember it? Why can’t my mind rewrite the memory? I pray & God gives me peace. Jesus usually sends angles to rock me to sleep, but not tonight. I’m tormented.

I try to focus on how far God has brought us – the kids & I. We are blessed beyond measure, so why is this happening again? Why can’t I just hit ctrl-alt-delete & end task?
Why can’t I reboot? It’s stuck there…playing out in my head…over & over.

I’ve remarried. 3 years & 2 months after he died, I remarried. The kids are happy & thriving. I’m happy 98% of the time & then out of nowhere, BAM! It starts again.
Why?  I’m happy now, I remind myself. I’m safe. I’m secure. I’m loved. We’re all healthy.

I thought there were suppose to be triggers…identifiable triggers so I could avoid them. I don’t see a provocative pattern except night fall, bed time, alone with my thoughts while my new husband snores away.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is torture. Maybe it’s provoked by an underlying subconscious thought pattern I’m oblivious to. Maybe I’m one of the unlucky ones.

Maybe I’m all alone with this disorder. Maybe there’s just too many maybes 😦

I’ve prayed for so many of you, whether we’ve met or not. Please keep our family in your prayers as I fight through this struggle. Please 🙂 & ask the Lord to protect the children’s minds from such torment too. Theirs is a different scenario, but traumatic as well. They watched me attempt to save his life in front of them. They saw their daddy’s blood on my face as I blew into is chest in vain.

Oh Jesus, please take this from us 😦

PTSD is an evil monster of the mind!

Looking deep Within


12. What is the difference between living and existing?

Amazingly, there is a very large & distinct difference between these two. Existing is what one does from day to day, numbly, methodically going through life. Wake up, have coffee, shower, kids to school, commute to work, say hello to co-workers, work, commute home, make or order supper, eat, sleep.
Methodical, routine, flat-line!

Living is when your senses, heart, and soul are active. One will still have a day such as described above, but many moments will be memorable, vivid, & wrapped in emotion.
Waking up becomes a bird’s chirp off in the distance that slowly, gradually comes closer until your senses tell your eyes to open. Your eyes don’t just open & burn, instead they take in a whirlwind of color and motion. Your sense of touch is aware of your positioning and feels your sheet, blanket, or lack of one hugging you.
I’m stopping now, can you imagine how long this post would be if I described an entire day? 🙂

15. If not now, then when?

Tomorrow is never a good answer.

16. Have you done anything lately worth remembering?

Yes but it’s private.

17. What does your joy look like today?

My faith, family, home, friends, and love that I choose to surround myself with. Joy is smiling so much & so often – wrinkles appear in the corners of your mouth & you don’t mind. Joy is everyday that my husband & children come home.

Joy is life using all 120 crayon colors everyday not just the standard 8 most people choose!
When’s the last time you colored your world happy?

🙂 Blessings

December


December came and went. Christmas came early for Josh this year. We exchanged some gifts with him  before his mother drove up from South Carolina to pick him up for the holidays. The boys developed a sense of appreciation for life once more as seen in their acceptance of only a few gifts we could afford them. It was odd not having Josh with us and we all missed him after his departure.

We traveled to Indiana after Christmas and buried Nick’s father, and the boys experienced driving through ice covered roadways and larger amounts of snow then they have ever seen. We mourned the loss of a great man in Nick’s life and contemplated life once more.  The boys developed a deeper respect for Nick and grew closer to him in another way.

Nick taught the boys how to build a snowman and how to sled on this trip though. Their anticipation of the wonders of snow had built so large, he couldn’t help himself but to allow them this treat. We bought sleds and took them to Brown County. They all played for well over an hour before they realized they were wet and cold 🙂

January brought new beginnings for our family and I will write about that soon too. Sorry this post is short, but it is straight to the point. I hope you understand why I haven’t written in a bit.

Love to you all 🙂

Grieving: Things Not to Say


When someone we know is grieving, we want to comfort them in some way. Many times, we choose to offer support verbally. When doing so, please remember these natural instincts that roll off the tongues of us all listed below – that are actually very damaging. These are things not to say:

*It’ll be okay.  — You do not know the outcome nor can you predict the future, so don’t use this common lie as a comforting measure.

*God needed them more than you. – Seriously? This is not appropriate in any case.

*If there’s anything I can do…you just let me know. – This is so generic, insincere, and can actually lead to anger & ill feelings toward you. Never ever say this unless you are seriously willing to help the mourning person for the rest of your life! If you say this, be prepared to say YES if you’re asked for transportation, monetary assistance, emotional support, letter writing, employment referrals, catalog orders, holiday gatherings, babysitting, random unexpected visits at your home, legal support, etc. If you make this forever promise, you are the lowest form of existence if you say NO when someone mourning calls on you for assistance for the rest of their lives. This is the most common thing that people will say when they attend a funeral service and 98% of the time, they do not mean it in the least.  No matter how much restraint it takes on your part, absolutely do not say this if children are present! I was fortunate enough not to need anyone’s help and I did not call on anyone for several months for anything after losing my husband. But all the random people who made this comment to my children made life difficult. In a child’s mind, they thought that all those random people really would come to their aid for ANYTHING ANYTIME and they developed a sense of abandonment afterwards. If nothing else from this post sticks in your mind, remember this one!  (My children may not be typical. They knew from experience that when I made this comment, I made a commitment that I upheld the rest of that person’s life. They learned from my example and did not understand the concept that other people only said this because they couldn’t think of anything else to say.)

*Another angel got their wings back. – When someone says this it sounds as though they do not have a loving & studied relationship with my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. It just sounds … weird.

*Time heals all wounds. – Even if this is true (which it is), this is not appropriate to say to someone within the first year of mourning or grieving.

*He was a good man – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*She was a good woman – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*I am sorry for your loss. – Why? Unless you killed them or made them sick, why are YOU sorry? Although, I will say that this statement is received much better than the previous “If there’s every anything I can do, you let me know”.

*God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. – Although this is true, it is not comforting to hear when mourning.

*Well…at least you’re young. – Yeah, that helps no one… ever 😦 How is that comforting to someone who is already upset about living a long life without their loved one they just lost?

*I know how you feel – Avoid this one at all cost unless you too have lost a relation in the exact same manner. No, just don’t say this at all.

*Try not to cry. He/she wouldn’t want you to. – Excuse my lingo, but that is plain ole’ bull poop. Do you hope that no one mourns you when you pass away? Of course not, we all hope that we are loved enough that we are missed when we pass away. So, why would you say that to anyone?

* Okay, enough time has passed to put this behind you and move on. – I’ve heard that said to my children many times and it honestly infuriated me. It caused more hurt than help.

*It’s time to grow up now and stop crying. – This too has been said to my children and it caused far more harm than anything else. They were just kids!! Kids cry no matter their sex and it was OKAY.

*Something great will come from this. – Only say this if you can take a right hook to the jaw without blinking or budging from your spot. You’ve been warned.

*Don’t cry. It’ll upset the kids/parents/siblings/others. – Again, this causes more harm than good as it places unfounded guilt on the survivor for mourning. Everyone mourns in their own way. Words are powerful during grieving, chose your wisely.

So with all of this, what do you say? Keep it simple and sincere. The less you say, the better you are. Here is a list of very appropriate things to comfort someone mourning or grieving:

  • I love you (This is the absolute best thing you can ever say. Love heals!)
  • Call me if you need to talk. (Be careful though, don’t say this unless you are prepared for the phone calls.)
  • I’ll pray for you.
  • I’m praying for you and your family.
  • God hasn’t left you. (This one can be tricky. If you say this, be ready for mixed emotions unless you know the person’s personal faith.)
  • It’s okay to cry.
  • It’s okay to scream.
  • It’s okay to be angry.
  • It’s okay to write down your thoughts.
  • He/she knew you loved them.
  • Are you okay? (Since this is a question, be prepared for no response or a lengthy period in which you just sit silently and listen without judging them.
  • Nothing/Silence (Sometimes the only thing a person needs is physical comfort – such as: a hug, holding a hand, sitting near them, or standing near them.)

Something people often forget to do:

  • Follow up – Many people will go on with their lives and forget about the mourning/grieving person after a week or two. If your memory is bad, make a reminder for yourself to check in on them a couple months after the event. This will mean much more than flowers at a funeral, empty comments at a graveside, or cards in the mail immediately following. All you have to do is not forget them in the first year. Simple 🙂

Holidays & Family 3yrs after Death


Grief is no easy monster to defeat & one of the biggest illusions it presents is how “family” holds together afterwards. Family unintentionally dissipates as the months & years go by. There are many good intentions and people are quick to declare, “we will not allow anything to separate us” and “we will get together more often”, but reality takes hold & people drift apart.

Death has a way of bringing people together & a way of separating them as well. The reasons why people drift apart are too numerous to mention, but the people who drift remain the same: Brothers, Sisters, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends, & especially in-laws.

The illusion of family is presented by those we love & share many years of memories, triumphs, & disappointments with. These are people we grew up with & other times people we allowed into our lives through love & devotion.

Probably some of the hardest lessons learned through this process is that people who were once “family” are no longer as the years go by. Those who once said “I love you” will allow themselves to fad out of your life & resume theirs without thought of the ones they leave out. The daily phone calls that occurred for 15 years will fade to weekly, then monthly, yearly, & finally stop completely. The thought of what constitutes family will be reduced to blood. The family events, get-togethers, & shared holidays will cease. The random encounters in town become fewer as the years accumulate.
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There is an awkwardness that begins to grow & soon in-laws feel betrayed by the widow/widower should they allow someone else into their life. Step children decide that a surviving step parent is no longer part of their family once another man/woman enters the widow/widower’s life. Distance becomes the norm instead of the unheard of and the unusual becomes usual.

  • During the 1st year after death, the holidays are mournful by all, yet comforting because “family” still gather and hold traditions.
  • By the 2nd year after death, holidays are a bit restrained. They seems to be full of pity and compassion for the widow/widower and the children. “Family” approach the holidays with caution.
  • By the 3rd year, the “family” turn inward. There is still much pity and compassion, but it is for themselves – not the surviving widow/widower. Since the phone calls have ceased, guilt money begins to arrive in mailboxes instead of invitations to holiday gatherings. “Family” begins to cling to each other more closely so they will be able to discuss the unacceptable changes in the widow/widower’s life. They fear change because they refuse to risk losing the precious memories of the loved one passed. I am hoping above all hope that one day soon, “family” will realize that nothing can replace or remove those memories from their minds.

In the mind of the “family”, it remains appropriate for the them to move on with their lives (as they should), yet it remains inappropriate for the widow/widower to resume life. Afterall, they have been encouraged to do so by many friends and loved ones, therefore it has become acceptable. This self acceptance takes a great deal of effort and can lead to the selfish human nature of self-preservation. People forget however, that self-preservation does not include tearing others down in the process. One of the most important Human impulses in life is self-preservation.

This holiday season, please try not to damage a survivor of any traumatic event by your own inclinations of self-preservation.  😦

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