Saturday, July 28, 2012

When PTSD Strikes in Grief

As if going through the emotional stages of grief aren't enough...shock, denial, anger, depression, and guilt. Then I found out there are physical symptoms of distress. The first year of widowhood is just crazy!

I didn't know at times if I was coming or going but I couldn't stop moving. Sometimes this meant traveling the U.S. to visit our family and friends. Other times it meant talking on the phone just about all night because I didn't want to go to bed alone. The adrenaline I had pumping through my body felt like a steady flow of caffeine. Eventually my body said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

As the one year anniversary approached, that I became a widow, I caught a cold. Not only did I feel tired and fatigued but I ended up physically and emotionally drained. At first, I didn't understand why I felt so run down and couldn't get better. I was told from a friend, who had also experienced a tragic loss in her life, "It sounds like post-traumatic stress disorder." She explained that stress from a past event will bring the illness on. Your body breaks down from all the pain it's lived through.

I realized that I had neglected my body pretty badly this past year. I had multiple sleepless nights from anxiety, as if I had drank endless pots of coffee. "And you traveled the world, never stopping to catch your breath," my friend, Carol reminded me. "You were probably scared to stop, to face what happened." And once I thought about it I realized that I didn't want to stop. But now I had to. My body was too exhausted. But I felt better that I now had a logical explanation.

It was now a time to rest. The Lord says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." I knew the time had come.

My blogger friend, Ferree, from Widows Christian Place, raises an interesting question as her blog post this past month....

Does Resting in the Lord Equal Trusting in the Lord?
Ferree writes....I came across the following passage and thought it fits perfectly with my Saturday's theme of urging widows to rest. Grief drains, exhausts, and stresses people out emotionally, spiritually and physically. Rest in each of those areas is essential. Here's a good here for the rest of Ferree's post from Widows Christian Place.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Joy After the Mourning

One of my first sighs of relief, came right before the first year anniversary of my former husband's death. It felt as if I had been on a very long journey and I got to finally stop and rest for a short while. I was tired of mourning. Grief in the first year of widowhood was just down right exhausting!

Instead of withdrawing into sadness as the one year anniversary approached, my busy schedule kept me moving ahead. I reached a new stage in my grief journey where for short periods, I could find comfort and happiness. I found a weekend to myself when my daughters had a weekend sleepover.With no parental responsibilities, I made up my mind to go out and have fun.

I went out dancing and socializing with some friends and it felt good to have some excitement back in my life. This may have been a turning point and revelation that there was more to life than grief. I also began to realize how powerful the mind is when you put your mind to something.

I knew there was going to be more sad and depressed days. More disorientated feelings of ups and downs. This was natural. But I was satisfied that I could find 10 to 20 percent of my days becoming more joyful than I had within the last year. Some people would say,"Oh, I still feel sad and depressed most of the time...80 to 90 percent of the time". I saw my glass 10 to 20 percent filled.

I'm a believer that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% in how we react to it. It's in our attitude. What good does it do to beat ourselves up over becoming a widow? Can we change anything back? No. And of course we didn't want this to happen. In fact we wished it never did. But unfortunately it happened.

Now, I was in the middle of a transformation in my life. I wasn't sure at this point what I'd be changing into, but I knew that I was in the process of finding a new me. And I knew deep down somewhere that I wanted to be happy again. God promises us that, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5 NKJV).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Everyone's So Happy...It's Sickening!

The higher the enthusiasm at the dance studio rose, the lower and more depressed I felt. I didn't want to be part of this excitement. Most of the dancers' fathers went to the competitions. I had to go by myself. The lonely widow. It wasn't fair!

"Mommy, how do I look?" My seven year old daughter, Nicole, stood in front of me ready to join the eight other girls in her lyrical group for her first competition. "Like an angel." I smiled. I was happy watching her during the performance. It didn't matter if they even won. It just gave me comfort while I watched her dance.

But as soon as the song ended, my comfort vanished. I didn't want to be there. Everyone was so happy, it was sickening. I just wanted to hide in a corner and cry. I didn't feel like I belonged sitting with the parents. Nelson should be here like the other dads. Here I am--alone again! It's almost a year and it still hurts.

My friend, Dinah, and her husband, Arturo, were at the competition with their daughters. "Come sit with us for the awards," Dinah said. "Are you feeling OK? You're awfully quiet." I sat down next to them and stared at the stage. "I'm fine."

I just wanted this over so I could leave. And the minute the awards concluded, I stood up to go. "Do you and Nicole want to go eat with us?" Dinah asked. "No, I just want to go home." I quickly left before having to talk to anyone else.

I realized how lonely and sad I still felt at times. And I also knew that I still needed my friends' help. Why would I push Dinah away when she was trying to help me? It's hard enough having a widow friend, then to have a sad and depressed one that's pushing you away. I felt awful and knew I had to apologize to her.

Even after this realization, I still went through periods of not wanting to be around "happy" people. Especially when it came to recitals and activities that other fathers were a part of. But I always liked being around my friends, even if they were happy. They were there to gently guide me back to a healthy state of mind. They loved me unconditionally until one day, I could love again and be happy, too.

And now I'm one of those "happy" people. And I'm sorry if any one reading this is sickened by that. There will come a day...when happiness reigns again for you!

P.S. Next week there will be no blog. I'll be on vacation, and I'll be visiting my "happy" friends, Dinah and Aruturo. And I'll be very "HAPPY"!