Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: grief and your brain (page 1 of 2)

Surviving Those Aftershocks

Matt,   an aftershock is defined as a smaller earthquake that follows a larger earthquake.   It generally occurs in the same area as where the main shock occurred and is caused by the displacement of the earth that followed that first main shock.

Part of living through earthquakes is learning to live with aftershocks.   It’s obvious I lived through my first major quake.   January 3rd 2015 my world was hit with a quake of unmeasurable magnitude.   That day my life was knocked off it’s axis and left free spinning into an atmosphere of shock and immeasurable grief.

Since that day these unexpected aftershocks hit just when my mind is starting to feel stable once again.    I’ve read aftershocks can last for years.   I’m living proof of that truth.    Four years and ten days have passed and the ground beneath my feet remains unsteady.

Grief is a lot like aftershocks.    One never knows when that shaking, unstable feeling will strike.    Usually there is no warning.   A thought, a memory, a word can bring on the most unsteady of feelings.   Almost like the ground is moving under my feet.    It’s a feeling of being out of control.   Of wondering what is happening and why now.

I’ve come to understand that most of what has been written about grief is untrue.    Grief knows no time limit.   It doesn’t lessen as the years pass.   It doesn’t let go after you have passed all those “firsts”.    It certainly doesn’t follow any stages or steps.   It knows no boundaries.    There are no certain series of programs or steps to follow to get you through to the end.   Because there really is no end.    Grief is the journey of aftershocks that hit unexpectedly and can be as powerful as that first major shock.

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I have days where I feel pretty steady.   Days where I can think of you and smile as a memory flows through the projector in my brain.   Days when I can tell your story without feeling that jolt of reality hit my piece of earth.   Days when I can enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face as I remember our talks on the beach.   Days I see your smiling face as a breeze blows my hair gently across my cheek as if a kiss is coming from heaven.  I treasure those days.   Those are the days I feel like I will survive even when the aftershocks hit.

Just when I’m feeling the illusion of joy, I feel the shift.   Some days the jolt hits as my eyes open and reality is there waiting for me.    My brain starts screaming, “He is dead”.   “Matt really died”. Its then the aftershock throws me off balance.   I see the cracks opening in the earth beneath my feet.   I catch my breath as I try to navigate through the rubble that was once my intact heart.   The immense power of the aftershock of reality put me on unstable ground and has me questioning my surviving the next one.

I want to scream.   I want to punch.   I just want not to be.    I want to disappear.   I want to run as far away as I can.   To leave this unstable ground and find a safe place to dwell.   I want my ground not to shift on a dime.   I want to walk on a steady path not this twisted, shattered piece of earth.

There are days the aftershocks leave me paralyzed as I try to navigate an escape.    Days when the grief is relentless and nothing I do helps erase the pain.    What I once thought about life has shifted.   I used to think life would go according to my plans.   Every belief has started to crack as I continue to live with your loss.   All my hopes and dreams fell through the earth and have disappeared from my life forever.

Aftershocks have been noted to be more dangerous and damaging than the original earthquake.    I once thought that had to be a falsehood.   But as I continue to live through years of aftershocks, I realize they are far more powerful than the original assault.   The aftershocks are constant reminders that my ground will never go back to what it once was.    That I will always be at risk for an aftershock to hit and knock me off my feet.   That my terrain will always be full of fault lines and my grief will find a way through.

Grief and aftershocks have a lot in common.    We are never given a warning.    They hit.   Making us unstable.   Shaking our once steady world changing the way we look at life.   Aftershocks like grief can be deep or close to our surface.   What matters most is we recognize them when they hit.   We stop and feel them.   We allow ourselves to be where we need to be as the earth shifts.   We allow ourselves the time to learn how to navigate through our fault lines.

 

There’s Nothing Silent About The Night

Matt,   Tis the season.   Wherever I go, Christmas music always seems to be playing.   I can’t even run into the grocery story without being punched in my gut.   There is no escaping the joy of the season.   People with smiles on their glowing faces are singing along to the carols.  Hearing I’ll Be Home For Christmas left me sobbing in the cereal isle as I wanted to scream out that No, he won’t be coming home this Christmas or next.   I wanted to stand in the middle of that aisle and scream at the top of my lungs.  My son is Dead.  Everyone shut up!  There is no Merry or Happy in my holiday.

Sleep used to be my only reprieve.   The only time I could crawl under the covers and disappear.   The quiet of the night used to bring a comfort to my soul like nothing else.  Wrapping myself up in my safe cocoon I could shut out the noise of the happy world and just be.

I don’t know what the trigger was.   I don’t understand why.   Suddenly, the night became my enemy.   The silence I once craved is now full of noise.   My brain, like a newborn babe has confused day and night.   Maybe it’s the season.   Maybe it’s ugly reality.   Perhaps my grief found my safe place and decided to move in.   Quietly, with the cunning of a predator, grief found me in the silence of the night.

Now, like a child fearing the monster in the closet I dread the night.   The night awakens all those  thoughts that were safely buried in my psyche.   Those visions of your disease swirling through my head.  The what if’s and why’s come flooding into my brain ripping me from the safety of slumber.   My body instantly reacts causing my heart to pound and hot tears to form.   There will be no escape from the questions that continue to tug at my heart.

The silence.   The lack of distractions allow my eyes to focus on your picture smiling back at me in the night.   My mind goes to places I refuse to visit in the daylight.   The darkness, the stillness  has a way of surrounding me with the despair I can no longer outrun.   The darkness allows the grief a power that is nonexistent in daylight.

In my mind I have conversations with you.   I pray for your peace and mine.   I wipe my tears quietly as my mind does the delicate dance of acceptance versus disbelief.   I allow myself memories of how holidays used to be.   Holidays when I was the one singing in the aisles with a smile on my face and childlike anticipation for our gathering in my heart.

I’ve come to realize that nothing will ever be the same.  Holidays will never get easier.   I will continue to feel your loss as long as I walk the earth.   Certain Christmas carols will most certainly come with gut punches.

Sleepless nights have become a part of my present life.   Reminding me of past sleepless nights when I held you close and rocked you as a baby.   Holding your sweet body next to mine those nights bonding us forever.   Under the cover of darkness I will close my eyes and try to remember your smell.   Your laugh.   Your amazing eyes.   I will allow the darkness to hide my weeping from the world.   I will allow myself to imagine you spending the holidays in a beautiful peace.   I will lay in the darkness and allow myself to grieve……

 

 

Life Will Never Be The Same.

Matt,   today would have been your 41st birthday.   I should be on my way to the beach to spend time with you on your special day.  We would have headed for the beach, walking the dogs letting them run through the surf while we caught up on life. We would have planned our dinner feast of crabs, shrimp and beer. But today our reality is much different from my dreams for this day.   For you are forever 37 and this is your fourth birthday in heaven.

Today I spent the morning letting my grief pour out from my soul.  Looking through every album I own with pictures of our life.  Beautiful memories flooded my broken heart as I asked myself how this nightmare became our reality.

Pictures of you with that smile and those beautiful eyes staring back at me through all the phases of your life.  From infancy through adulthood.  Looking so happy and healthy.  It is so hard for me to understand this reality.  My brain knows you are gone.  My heart struggles with this  truth.

Today there will be no family party.  No cake, no funny card.  I will never see you with your brother standing side by side laughing about how your both over the big 4 0.
Comparing how childhood dreams became a reality or remained still a dream.

Losing you is losing a future of love, laughter and future memories.  Losing you is never seeing my sons together again.  Never hearing your laughter as you tell of childhood antics that were kept secret from mom.   Losing you is never meeting the girl who stole your heart.  Losing you is never dancing at your wedding.  Losing you is never sharing your joy of holding your newborn child for the first time.  Losing you has taken its toll on me.   Losing you is losing me

Reality is that I will never see you coming through my door with your children in tow. That smile and those eyes forever gone.  No mini Matt’s for me to spoil and hug.   No babes to be rocked to sleep.  No babes to soothe my aching heart.   No future generation to share stories of your childhood antics.  No more of you.

Your brother will never know the joy of being an uncle.   He will never take your son fishing or show your daughter treasures saved from your childhood.  He will never know the joy of holding his brothers children in his arms or teaching them to run through the surf with you by his side.   He will never watch his younger brother discover the joys and heartbreaks of being a parent.   He will never be able to offer advice or share his list of do’s and don’ts of fatherhood.   There will be no more children squealing with joy as that new puppy comes running into their arms.   No more brothers sharing the secret of what makes a house a home.

How i wish Heaven had visiting hours. I would throw myself into your arms and never let you go. I would tell you how much your loss has changed my life. I would tell you over and over again how much I love you. I would beg you to stay with me forever.

Today I will honor your life. I will let my grief have its way. Today I will let my tears flow no longer fighting or pretending that I am ok. Today I will remember the joy you brought to my life.   I will allow myself to  feel the profound loss of your death.
Today I will close my eyes and remember your hugs, your voice, your smile.  Today I will wrap myself up in you. ❤️

Grief, The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Matt,  today, January 3rd, marks the third year since you left me behind.   Three years have passed since I’ve heard your voice or seen your handsome face.   Three years.   It just doesn’t seem real.   How did I survive three years of carrying the unbearable weight of my grief.   I sit alone and remember the moment I learned you were gone.   Three years ago, January 3rd was a Saturday.  It was snowing here and all I could think about was how lucky you were to be spending your day at the beach.  I was working in the NICU feeling jealous of your new life in sunny Florida.   Jealous that I was freezing and you were laying in the warm sun.  Little did I know you were already lying in a morgue your body lifeless, cold and blue.

For three years I’ve lived in a fog.   Disbelief allowed me to survive.   Days I pretended you really were lying on that beach being warmed by the Florida sun.  Then there were days when reality snuck in and I had to crawl through choking quicksand.  Days the weight of my grief literally had me fighting for my own life.

As a nurse, I read about how debilitating complicated grief could be.   I learned how destructive this type of grief could be to the body and soul.   Never quite understanding it’s incredible power until I was thrown into the fire after your untimely death.   You see Matt, my grief has been complicated by my guilt.   For three years I have blamed myself for your death.   I became my own personal punching bag.  Constantly allowing that rollercoaster of emotions to chip away at my very soul.

I blamed myself for not being the “best” mother.  For working while you were young.  Not having the luxury of being one of those incredible moms who had time to make meals from scratch.   You know those moms who never had to be responsible for anything else except their kids.   My beatings continued as I rehashed everything I should have done to save you from your addiction.   My guilt would never allow me to see everything that I did do.   Guilt is ugly.   Guilt only let me see all of the wrongs and none of the rights.

I remember watching you withdrawal from your opioids.   I watched your body shake, sweat and fall apart.  I watched in horror.  Never quite understanding how your body could withstand the assault.   Now it’s my body that’s being assaulted.   I’m the one withdrawing from you.   I was addicted to your addiction.   For seven years, I fought to save you.   Never once thinking that I had no control of our fate.   I was so foolish thinking I was in control of anything, especially your addiction.   Call it nurses mentality.   Nurses save and your mom was a nurse.   I spent my life saving people and  could not accept that this wonder woman of a nurse could not save her own son.

So now it’s me thats been shaking, sweating and falling apart.   For most of the past three years my soul has lived in a constant state of high anxiety.   Your death caused a permanent withdrawal that I now have to navigate my way through.  Panic attacks,  ER trips thinking I’m having a heart attack, and my new friend migraines.   Every crazy symptom all anxiety and guilt related.

I remember being told that one day I would get angry.   Angry at you for causing such profound grief.  For causing my world to spin off its axis.  For causing me to drown in this dark, ugly abyss.   This overwhelming ocean of heartbreak.  Constantly fighting the powerful undertow that drags me down on the bad days.

I never did get angry.   I forgave you the moment you left.   The person I need to forgive is me.   Three years is a long time to fight the most powerful of emotions.   Three years of blaming myself for something I could not control.   Three years of near drownings when the guilt pulled me far away from my safe shore.

I will grieve and miss you forever.   This isn’t how our story was supposed to end.   I now realize that when the guilt starts dragging me under I must reach for a life preserver.   I must focus on getting back to shore.   I must learn to swim again…………

Don’t Mind The Elephant, He’s With Me

 

Matt,   I remember during your active addiction you talked about your disease as if it were a  monkey on your back.   Since your death I seem to have inherited an elephant.   The only difference is my elephant found his spot on my chest and decided to settle in.

The funny thing is, as heavy as my elephant is to carry, he seems to be invisible to everyone but me.   I first realized how easy it was to ignore my elephant when most of my so called friends seemed to disappear.   It seemed it was easier to just vanish  from my life than to acknowledge the tragedy of your loss.

My elephant for many can be a scary beast.   Representing a difficult situation or an unpleasant experience that is best left unspoken.   The mentality seems to be that if something is not said then it never really happened.  Unfortunately for me, my elephant has become a constant companion.   A constant reminder that life has taken a tragic turn and will never be reset.

The elephant is my dirty little secret.   My elephant has a name.   I call him grief.   I’ve lived with him for 35 months and 26 days.   Some days he seems to weigh a little less.   On those days I seem to be able to carry him easily.    The difficult thing is I never know how heavy or how light he will become from day to day.   After living with grief I’ve learned that until people inherit my elephant they really don’t want to know how heavy he can be.   Some give me the impression that they really don’t care.

It seems that my elephant chases people away.   While shopping alone I run into old friends from my past.   They know my story yet rather than approach me and start a conversation they go out of their way to avoid me.   My elephant isn’t ugly.   He doesn’t bite.   He isn’t threatening.  He is happy when people acknowledge him.   Confused and hurt when they avoid him.

I have learned to live with my elephant.   It seems I had no choice.   Never in a million years did I ever think my constant companion would control so much of how I think and feel.   Even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t even come close to understanding the power of one of the gentlest  creatures on earth.

Somedays my elephant makes me feel like I’m crazy.   Like we are too attached.    Like I should be giving him walking papers and sending him on his way.    My mind thinks I’ve had him far too long.  But My heart just can’t let him go.    The elephant has become emotionally protective of me.   Shielding me from those who don’t know anything about elephants.   From those who feel that elephants have no place in the human heart.

It seems this time of the year my elephant has gained some weight.    As I see families huddling together near Christmas lights or hear the songs of peace and joy I can feel his weight shift.   I feel like the loner in the room.  Like my elephant has become unruly and people must run for their safety.  People see me but don’t see me.   My elephant and I are invisible.   As if someone had the nerve to ask how I was doing the elephant would shatter to the floor.

I wait for the day my elephant is accepted.   I wait for the day people reach out and touch him.   My elephant has become a part of who I’ve become since your death.   He needs to be acknowledged.   He needs to be understood.   The elephant has no plans to move on.   I’m still grieving and probably will be the rest of my days.   My elephant and I will leave this life as one.    Until then I carry him wherever I go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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