Grief, to me that is a four letter word that I never wanted to hear or feel. Yes, I have experienced grief when my grandparents passed, or friends passed, but I never experienced it like when my beautiful and precious son John moved in to eternity on May 26, 2014. I was left, a shattered mother, numb, in disbelief. How can this vibrant, fun-filled, non-drama child I had given birth to and raised no longer be here? How is it I will never hear the words "I love you my beautiful mother" again? No more flowers to mark special occasions. My light was drastically dimmed on that day.
I wasn't sure how I was expected to live and breathe without John. It took every ounce of my energy to get out of bed and face each day. I longed for my son, I needed to feel his arms around me, hear his laugh, look in to his eyes. I was angry, but at who? I think maybe just at life. It is so unfair at times. I wanted to punch something, scream, cry out loud… I wanted him back. Forever is pretty final. I smelled his shirts, how can he be gone? What am I to do?
Some how I made it thorugh the week following his death, the vigils, prayer service, viewing and funeral. The children were at my house every night (upwards of 100 of them) I honestly don't remember much. Bits and pieces come here and there, I walked in a thick lost fog. I had to keep moving forward because I knew John would want that, and my other children needed me. But the light seemed to have dimmed within my soul. My faith carried me through the first few months. God was the light I focused on, His promise to me that I would see my son again when it is my time. I took some pretty specific steps (in retrospect) to help me with the process and journey.
1. Exercise – I had been a personal trainer for T-Tapp Method of Fitness for 10 years, and a Yoga Instructor for 3 years. Fitness to me was always about my client, never my own. But now I needed the emotional release. I began running… outside… with my music. Some days were harder than others, I cried, I screamed, I ran. I watched the butterflies, listened to the stream that was beside the trail I ran on, I watched the wildlife as they scurried about in their day. I realized on days I ran, my mood was better (after all my son now has seen the face of God). he days that I could not run or chose not to run, I spent the day crying and mourining his death. Anxious, depressed, wanting. So… exercise was a prioirity to survive this life. This was no longer an option or something that I did for someone else. I HAD to do this for ME. My sister sent me an article that further explained what I was learning about exercise and depression. (CLICK HERE to read this article) My OB/GYN thought for sure I would be thrown in to menopause due to this shock, but my excercise helped to keep my hormones balenced and stress levels down.
2. Diet – and I do not mean I went on a diet, but I was more aware of how certain foods affected me.
- Caffeine is a BIG no no if you are depressed or have anxiety related issues, your feelings are magnified 3-fold. I limit or eliminate caffeine as best I can.
- Sugar also impacts me in a negative way, it increases my tiredness and depression. Making exercise and eating a viscious cycle, I have to eat well in order to have the energy to move my body well. When I eat foods that are whole, not processed, no sugar or dairy (I am intolerant) I function better.
- Alcohol – While on the surface alchol can numb my feelings and mask my pain. Studies have shown that nearly 1/3 of people who battle depression also battle alcoholism, and that women are twice as likely than men to turn to alchol when they are down. While "being numb" the rest of my life may seem a positve, in reality it isn't. I am needed to function, live and help others (specifically my other children first and foremost)
3. Faith – Thank God I had deveolped a strong sense of Faith and how powerful God is. I have always had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother, with whom I now shared her sorrow and pain. I keep my eyes focused on God and His promise of eternity, He gave me John for 18 years and 6 weeks. I was Blessed beyond measure.
These are all my reasons "why" I made the choices that I made to help me with the overwhelming grief that comes when you lose a child (or any loved one for that matter). Do what you have to do to get you through each day, bringing you one step closer to being with your child again. As of today, February 14, 2015 I am 264 days closer to holding John again. Happy Valentine's Day my beautiful boy. Mommy loves you with every breath she take and every beat of my heart.