On Friday I spent an hour and a half with a Psychiatrist. He reassured me that everything I am feeling is perfectly normal, but stressed that I still need counselling and may need this support for at least another year, perhaps even three years. Additionally he wants to review me every three months and is recommending anti-depressants for the next 6 months, perhaps longer. My concern was that taking meds may delay my grieving and I was terrified that I would have to address this when I stopped the meds. Perversely I don’t want to escape the indescribable pain that I am in because it is my badge of honour. He has promised me that this will not be the case, but explained that my “score” was very low, that I NEED the pills and that I am coping admirably, but in his view … AT WHAT COST to my physical and mental health. The meds will simply help me on my journey through widowhood, by compensating somehow for the emotional trauma that I am going through. I will still feel the pain, however they will give me a helping hand. I have to admit that I don’t really understand … but I do know that this new phase I am going in is much harder, much tougher than the first five months. This is reality. It’s too painful. I can’t do this without help and am not too big to deny myself the help either. I’ll neck a pill a day and see if it helps. I’ll do anything, because I can’t do this – it’s not tenable.
I’m looking forward to seeing my counsellor (Frances) again because I have really missed our sessions. The good news is that my healthcare insurance is more than happy to add her to their “books”, which is an enormous relief because I have a connection with her.
I feel very very low, and am walking into this with an open mind.
Spent the weekend with my big sister Honey and her other half Geoff (who is an excellent cook), my nephew Mark and his other half Helen, his girls, Nyah and Maisie, and my niece Frances and her other half Adam (who I am starting to get to know properly … and I know that I will never worry about my niece as long as he is there – what a lovely man … thank god she has found a MAN … not a poor imitation of one. She’s much smarter than me – it took me 30 years to find one.)
I love them and love their company, but at times find the noise and all the conversations hard to keep up with. I didn’t used to … is this because my mind cannot cope with too much at one time because it is working so hard just to stay sane? I didn’t want to leave them, yet at the same time, I crave solitude so that I can let go. I am so tired and it’s hard to motivate myself at all. But I can’t go back to that deep dark place. I can’t give up, but I am going to need help.
When I get home I start updating my will because it seems to be important to me to work on it, not because I am having bad thoughts at all … it’s just that I don’t want them … those people who I love having to deal with a mess when it is my time to go. I know, truly know, how painful this is and want to protect them from as much shit as I can.
I just want to be with you.
As promised earlier in my blog, here are the questions in Jerry Sittser's book that I have given some thought to:
JERRY SITTSER – A GRACE DISGUISED – DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What happens when we try to fend off the darkness resulting from sudden and tragic loss? In contrast, what are the positive and negative consequences of plunging into the darkness?
We exhaust ourselves. We fight and fight and fight – resistance is futile. It is however our instinct to try to fight the emotions because they are unspeakably painful. When we learn to embrace the tsunami of feelings … we gain more inner peace, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration … what we gain is … less inner turmoil, however, this means embracing your worst fear, it is horrific … you literally go into a deep dark place, and there is no option other than to mourn as deeply as you must. This is reality. This is the name of the place on your journey when you realize that he is never coming home, never going to hold you again. This is where you learn to let the tsunami engulf you, sometimes riding on its crest, sometimes gulping for air … always wanting to be with him … acknowledging the huge hole in your heart and soul … and letting him take residence there, so that you can keep him safe.
Sittser writes, “I did not want to respond to the tragedy in a way that would exacerbate the evil I had already experienced.” What have been your fears regarding the impact of your response to the tragedy?
The danger is forgetting that you have a choice, you always have a choice – and taking the path that does not lead to bitterness, to becoming a victim, instead opting to honour his memory by being the best person that I can be, and learning the lesson well, to keep listening to “his voice”. This is my promise to Cliff.
Describe the confusion of identity that can result from catastrophic loss. How has it impacted your life?
Self preservation has kicked in … leading to my behaviour becoming the most sensible (boring) it has EVER been. I think that I am losing me, but then I surprise myself and prove that I can act the way that I did when he was here … he left me such a strong foundation and that is perhaps the greatest gift he ever gave me. Sometimes I feel as though I have lost half of me … and I guess I have, because we truly were and still are two halves of a whole … I feel as though I am losing “Boo” and that too many people are calling me ”Margo” these days … leading me to consider changing my name by deed poll to “Boo”. I realize that this would not really change anything in reality and therefore will not … at least PJ and I will call each other “PJ” and “Boo” even if the soul mates who called us those names are no longer around to say those words now.
What happens when, in response to suffering loss, we lower our expectations of what we will get out of life? What makes it possible to keep looking forward to a life that falls so far short of what we had planned, wanted and expected?
We had planned to grow old together, living half the year in Spain, when I retired at 50. As long as I was with Cliff I was happy. It’s all I wanted. Right now, when I get to the end of most days, I think, “oh well, another day done … good, that means I’m another day closer to the day when I’ll be with him again.” My goalposts have changed … I’ll retire at 65. My focus will remain on him, by which I mean I will try each day to live for him, to make him proud of me, to be a better person and to remember what he taught me, to get through this and not be a bitter “victim” but to still be essentially the person that he fell in love with. I think that I have lost some of the freedom that I had when he was alive, but time will tell if that’s the case.
What gives you hope when the pain of this present life overwhelms you?
The strong foundation that I am privileged with, thanks to Cliff and my parents before him, is the starting block that I will always have, even when I am knocked to “rock bottom”. I know beyond doubt that I will be with him again, I just don’t know what life after death looks like. I also know that I can’t just lie in a deep dark place forever, waiting for the day to come … he didn’t choose to die, therefore I have to live the way that he would want me to, until it is time for me to go.
Think about the far-reaching impact and heritage of your loss. What do you want that heritage to be?
To learn from this, to find the positive aspect of this, to still see the best in people. Not to become too cynical or paranoid about other people’s behaviour because he is not here to balance out my childlike opinion of the world. To help others in this situation. The shock of just how bad this really is … it stuns me that there is not more help out there … that people are not consumed with fear over this happening to them.
What have you discovered about yourself as a result of the loss you have suffered?
How strong I can be. How much I have learned from him. How much I am still learning along this journey. The depth of my feelings and emotions. The shock of feeling this unspeakable pain but somehow managing to endure it.