It is July again. This month will be eleven years since my daughter passed; when the journey of mourning her death and short life started. The trauma of grief from her death has been very different for me, her mother, than for those that surround me but never mistake that grief impacts every relationship of the one grieving. Family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and even complete strangers.
April used to be the month I dreaded prior to my daughter passing. That was the month my dad died when I was eleven. Grief seems to be a constant companion for me. I recognize that grief doesn’t go away, it just changes as I adapt to my new normal. I have learned to live alongside my grief as I become one with it. This is the hardest part for those that have never had a major loss in their life to understand.
When my daughter first died, grief would play tricks with my mind. Everything reminded me of Kat. I would drive down the street remembering the last time she rode with me in the passenger seat. There were many times I was consumed with anguish when I was alone in the car and would have to pull over to the side of a road to cry it out. Sometimes it would be to scream it out at the top of my lungs. The tears would start when I would hear a song on the radio that she liked or the words reminded me of a moment from the past. I broke down in grocery stores; having to leave because foods she enjoyed sat on the shelves and I wouldn’t be buying them for her any longer. Grief was big, loud and all consuming.
I went back to work and I could physically feel eyes on me. The questions that my co-workers wanted to ask but wouldn’t. So many of my co-workers never spoke to me again. They didn’t know how to deal with a grieving mother so they just chose not to. Grief took on an aspect of feeling alone.
Friends started disappearing from my life. I can’t blame them really. I would want to talk about my daughter, about my sadness, about what I could have done differently. It was all I could think about and what I needed answers for. I tried to make sense of everything but there was nothing to make sense of. Grief became my only companion.
Finally, after a few months of trying to wade through my grief by myself, I searched for a grief therapist. Grief therapy is a kind of psychotherapy used to treat complicated grief reactions. I knew I had some PTSD going on due to finding my daughter after she died that made the junk in my brain messed up therefore I wanted to make sure this person could help with all of my emotional problems. I felt I was a ‘complicated’ case.
Finding a therapist was a harder task than I expected. I had been in therapy before so it became a huge disappointment with the first few people I went to see. Their approach to my daughter’s death left me feeling worse rather than better when I left our sessions. I was not happy about how things were going so I finally started asking others if they knew someone who had a good therapist. One of my co-workers said her therapist was awesome. I asked if she could ask her therapist if she knew anyone who could help with my circumstances. Her therapist provided me with a few names in order of who she thought would be the best fit for me. I am thankful every day for being able to have that conversation and find a fabulous therapist.
That is when I met my Talk Doc (that is my name for her). She and I clicked right away. She has never belittled me or my feelings. She has understood and helped me work though many, many, many emotions related to my daughter’s death, friends leaving my life, my ‘new’ relationships with my family, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers. Like when a complete stranger asks an innocent question like “How many children do you have?” Simple question for some, my Talk Doc helped me work through different ways to respond. Now it gives me a opportunity to share about all my children and grandchildren without wanting to crawl under a rock. It has been a ten year process. I have had ups and downs but we are always moving forward.
This journey to learn the new me, living alongside grief as we become one has been easier with my conversations with my Talk Doc. I appreciate working through all of my life with her because everything is always connected. How I deal with something today usually has a beginning process that happened with something from my past. We are all complicated right?
I am blessed to have found the right Talk Doc for me. No one should give up if it doesn’t seem right. It is just like any other relationship. There has to be a connection.
I have gone through the grief stages; guilt, sadness, anger, denial, depression, numbness, numerous times. They like to resurface multiple times through the years. Some of them still do but I have better skills to deal with them. Grief and I will be companions for life. This is not a bad thing. I recognize it most of the time and allow myself to work through the emotions as they surface. I am ok when the tears well up because I know I am allowing myself to feel. That is a win.
I am not the same person I was when my daughter died. I have changed and grown with each skill I learn. I will continue to change because grief is a process. Eventually we all have to obtain the skills that grief brings with it.
I am stronger in all aspects of my life. I own my emotions. I rejoice in my strengths and I let myself receive the good along with the bad. I still have more growing to do but I do know that I am part of the legacy my father and daughter have left to carry on their memories.
Every moment I choose to live life to the fullest, part of it is in honor of my dad and my daughter. They live on in me while I still grow alongside the grief that has become a part of who I am. It is my new normal.