Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Grief

Everyone's Grieving Process is Different

I consider myself blessed that I did not experience a deep loss of death in my family until I was an adult. Growing up I remember being very sad about having to put a cherished family pet to sleep and overall I have always had an understanding about death. But what if you are unclear about death? How could that affect how you view the grieving process? Simple: you question it and the uncertainty could lead to further emotions of anxiety and anger (along with other feelings). I have never questioned my faith or what comes after this life. After the death of my son I find myself questioning everything. After reading about grief, I understand it is part of the grieving process.

Honor the Loss

Before Kaleb had passed I had set up a page where everyone that knows Kaleb or wanted to know what was going on with him could connect. After Kaleb's death it has transformed now into, not only part of my grieving process, but now a beacon of awareness. It's someplace where I can still honor his memory. Number 18 of Good Grief Center's tips for grieving states that working through the grieving process we should "consider reviewing memorabilia, photos, home movies, or videos." Kaleb's page is also a place of healing. Don't forget, it's o.k. and you should talk about your loss. Sometimes I hold so much inside, but I feel better once I talk-it-out and am able to process everything that I had been holding hostage. Also, if you are with someone who has lost a loved one, don't be afraid to talk to them about the individual. I feel like sometimes people might not speak Kaleb's name in fear of upsetting me. It's o.k. - honor their memories by talking about their life and share with one another, you never know...

Take Care of Yourself

Looking back on the past few months there is something that I would have changed. In my grieving process I neglected my physical wellness. I focused too much within my head, as an over-analyzer I often do this. After reading and researching about grief, all of the articles will tell you to take care of yourself. I had a friend who had told me that I should take walks, but I didn't listen (that and we had a hard winter); I do regret letting my health slip. Also, I am an emotional eater... put the two together and it has only complicated the grieving process. Within the Good Grief Center's tips, it also mentioned how "grieving puts a heavy burden of stress on your body" how sleep can be disturbed and lead to other illnesses such as depression, immune deficiencies, and other problems; "grief is not a disease but it can become one." Keep in mind that the process is not a determined amount of time either, grieving can affect you when you least expect it. Just the other day I received something from Kaleb's school teacher in the mail. It was something that was usually sent home on a daily basis when Kaleb was in school letting us know how his day was. It was unexpected and I broke down crying. Grieving does take it's toll; after breaking down I was exhausted. Give yourself time to grieve.

Grief Comes in Different Forms

Another tip that I just read that I might try, is to write a letter to whomever your grieving over. I know when my ex-husband left and I was grieving that loss, I had written a lot out - it helped my brain to process everything that was going on inside of me. You feel relief too because you've gotten it off of your chest. I'm going to do this for Kaleb. Because I wasn't with him when he passed, I feel like there is a missing puzzle piece. I know I am not responsible for his death, as his primary care giver because he was with his father for his allotted visitation, and I was not there - I do feel a sense of uncontrollable loss that I need to address. Then again, when is loosing a loved one controlled? Because I was Kaleb's primary care giver I was his advocate, he required 24/7 care, and we have always been praised for the care and love that we gave to our K-man. So, loosing him so unexpectedly has added to the grieving void.  I'm going to try writing him a letter and when I visit his grave I'll read it aloud.

Stay Healthy - Keep Positive

I think it is crucial that you DO NOT seek an 'escape' - DO NOT abuse alcohol or drugs in trying to mute the pain that you are feeling. I have tried to focus more on my writing during this process. A healthier option would be to cultivate your interests and hobbies, to occupy your mind for a duration of time. Recently I have returned to work. I had once worked at the school that Kaleb had attended, prior to his birth. In considering if I would be able to return there to work, I thought that I should be able to because I had worked there before Kaleb. Being there has been challenging emotionally, but more importantly I found that I feel him more there. It has reminded me how much I enjoy working with challenged children and how valuable I can be to their lives. While Kaleb was here, he not only blessed our lives, but we helped him through his journey here. Now, it's time that I help other children on their journey as well.