I’ve been in a dark place lately. Call it depression, call it grief, I’m calling it both (I will spare you from the actual DSM-IV Diagnosis that it is). I’ve been exhausted, all the time. There are days when I literally feel like a living machine. Going through the motions and forcing myself to complete the tasks that must get done to make it through the day. Doing so while feeling like a dark heavy cloud is constantly looming over me, ready to catch me in the midst of a terrential down pour at any moment. Forgive me for the cheesy metaphor, but it is a real reflection of where I am. I’m in a cold, stormy, cloudy place.
There are moments when the clouds move away and I can see sunlight. My husband makes me laugh, I can enjoy time with friends, I can take pride in accomplishments, and I can feel happy for someone else’s good news. Unfortunately, for me right now, these are just moments. Mostly though, there is darkness. I’m struggling with how to make it through this phase and maintain life and health in order to keep moving.
I find myself yearning for a day without these deep feelings of sadness and bewilderment being my companion. Having a “type A” personality with natural inclinations to accomplish things makes this a daunting phase for me. I am not good at patiently waiting for things to run their course. I am driven person, when I desire something; I am motivated to do whatever I need to do to come out with success. Therefore, I’ve been trying to do all the things I know that will clinically help me move through grief and fend depression. I started counseling right away after we lost our son, I’ve tried to take as much time off from work as we can afford, I’ve been open with others about my struggles, I have allowed myself time to cry and tried to expeirience emotions as they arise, I have attempted to pay extra attention to my physical health and well being, I’m trusting the Lord and trying to make my faith top priority. Guess what? It is not working… I still feel awful!
I am beginning to understand that it is an unreal expectation for me to “feel better” right now. That is hard as we live in a society that moves quickly and does not relish sadness. We are a pleasure seeking society. Most people do not want to dwell with me in my grief, and why would they? * I want it to be over too! However, to find myself without sadness over my loss would be to deny it. I don’t feel like I have ever denied this loss, I am just getting literally exhausted of facing it every day. But instead of being frustrated that I am still in a place of sadness, I am learning to embrace it. I am trying my best to learn from my loss, to allow it to deepen my soul and make me a more compassionate person. It takes a lot of work to enter into your psyche and soul and go through this process. There are days where I feel defeated by the task, having no energy to invest in anything. Those are the hardest days and they always come without much warning. I know it is ok to have those days, I just wish I didn’t. I wish I felt better. As others have reminded me, unfortunately, there is no way to fast forward through grief. Instead you just make it through, one foot in front of the other, day by day.
Part of my processing involves reading and journaling. Through this, I have come to realize that there is no recovery from grief. The book, A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser has been an enirching and relatable read. Sittser writes;
“Recovery is a misleading and empty expectation. We recover from broken limbs, not amputations. Catastrophic loss by definition precludes recovery. It will transform us or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same. There is no going back to the past, which is gone forever, only going ahead to the future, which has yet to be discovered. Whatever that future is, it will, and must, include the pain of the past with it. Sorrow never entirely leaveles the soul of those who have suffered a severe loss. If anything it may keep going deeper.”
And so, I am not the same, nor will I ever be. I will walk the rest of the days of my life carrying the loss and sorrow of the very early and mysterious death of my firstborn son. Learning how to cope with loss and going through grieving is dark and painful. The burden does get lighther, but it will never go away, and that is ok.
* Disclaimer, I do have some amazing friends who have consciously been walking with me and embracing sadness. I am so thankful for you :)