Monday, February 9, 2009

Projectile Grieving

Tommy's friend called him today. . . .I'll give a little background: Yesterday was Tommy's birthday, the third one after Merry Katherine's death. As Tommy says, "Now the numbness (of the first two and a half years) has worn off and the agitation and weepiness have set in."

After Tommy's birthday party last night with our family--our two sons, our daughter-in-law, and I were all present with him, yet . . . our baby girl was starkly absent . . . we sat down in the now-quiet den this morning. I took that opportunity to give Tommy a birthday card I had felt Merry Katherine wanted me to give him, and a present --two books, and a clear plastic teddy bear full of cotton-candy jelly beans which were always hers and her daddy's favorite-- When he saw the card that read, "DaDa" on the envelope, he thought it was a card from Nathan, our younger son. When he opened it, it took him totally off guard when he looked down and saw the card's picture of a little girl that looked just like Merry Katherine when she was little, and as he said it, "That was the end of being able to breathe normally for the next hour." He couldn't read the card.

After he saw the picture, Tommy's three-day agitation--like deep-freezer ice--went through an instant melt-down. Here came the gut-wrenching sobs that needed to come but had been put "on ice" to be able to get through his birthday party the night before in a pleasant way for his family's sake.

Tommy described this sobbing phenomenon in his own inimitable way this afternoon when I overheard him talking to a friend who had called him on the phone to talk and to check on him. (This friend has also lost a child):

His friend asked, "How are you doing?"

Tommy candidly stated, "It's been a rough day. It's twice as bad as the last one when you saw me so upset."

His friend then responded, "I'm sorry you're feeling bad."

Then Tommy said,

(Grief's) just one of those things that's gotta run its course. It's just like being nauseated; you can try to talk yourself out of throwing up, but you're gonna throw up anyway.
I thought boy that captures it, the inevitability of sorrow. . .that it's got to flow, or it will come out one way or another eventually! I think he was then greatly relieved to have been able to finally "feel" those pent-up feelings in a warm, safe, and private environment. The rest of the day today, he says he has felt some relief yet is also emotionally spent.

Then, to top it all off, we found out later in the day that a girl in our neighborhood (who had been a friend to our three children) was found--murdered . . . .

It's affected his ability to talk the rest of the day. And I am not doing so well either. . .



Cas said...

It still amazes me that after these many years some events and encounters can trigger an intense sobbing spell. Sometimes it happens after going to the grocery store, sometimes it happens during a play, and sometimes it happens while singing a particular song. But it almost always happens following those "special" days.

Grieving Mother/Therapist, Angie Bennett Prince said...

Dear Cas,

My heart goes out to you. I consider the death of a child to be such a severe loss that it requires a lifetime of grieving, so I am not surprised by your intense sobbing spells.

Excuse me, Cas while I digress, but this phenomenon is a pet peeve of mine: What many "civilians" (those who have not experienced such a tragic death) do not realize is that the grief is going to come, one way or another. It can happen in a "controlled" way in the quietness of our own homes (where, to me, it is much preferred), and/or in public places where we may get triggered when we least expect it! Just walking into a grocery store can trigger me because the store is often playing music that Merry Katherine loved!

Since triggers do seem to come from everywhere, our grief is going to be triggered, and at some point will need to flow. (It's not like we are making this pain up, so civilians please be aware that you don't know what you really can't know until you have experienced it!)

Thanks for indulging me, Cas!

May God be with you in your grief,


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