Tommy and I were discussing over coffee this morning a new book we've both been reading, The Truth about Grief by journalist Ruth Davis Konigsberg (2011). The book covers general grief, not the grief specific to child-loss. (Konigsberg only dedicates three pages of her 245-page book to child-loss grief.)
It is not until the very end of her book, in the Afterword, that Konigsberg shows the help one griever, a widow, finally got for her grief when she decided to get help with her trauma. A year after her husband's death, the widow was suffering from recurring violent nightmares and insomnia, so she went to a psychologist who specialized in trauma. Weekly psychotherapy sessions combined with massage, acupuncture and exercise, she says, were what led her "back to relatively normal behavior."
Tommy and I then began talking about the trauma specific to Child-Loss Grief. We mentioned the violence that our children experience before death, but that we parents seem to carry with us after their death, when suddenly I felt the trauma wrapping its fingers around my heart with its icy chill. My head dropped, my hand shot up to prop my forehead. Tommy jumped up to run to the kitchen where he retrieved cranberry juice and a pastry for me. It has become a familiar scenario to him, that he is able to quickly read my body language that signals
~~T-R-A-U-M-A~~ which for me typically includes hypoglycemia.
Trauma is the aspect of Child-Loss grief that catches us grievers off-guard. We expect the depressive and debilitating sadness connected with losing our children, but who knew Trauma would come along with the package?
Not only does the trauma surprise us child-loss grievers, but many professionals miss its tell-tale signals as well.
Even Konigsberg, the journalist/author almost missed it (although she did mention trauma briefly in association with the debriefing of the families of the 9/11 victims), with trauma only making its appearance in the griever's necessary healing process at the tail end of her whole book about grief (at least she did catch on by then!)
Trauma in Grief is very real, and oh what a bear it is...
It is now hours later, and I am still feeling trauma's aftermath... My heart feels locked up it's so tight. My body is exhausted like I've just run a marathon. I am craving sleep.
Who knew child-loss grief would turn me into what we now call, a "Trauma Mama"?! As if missing my baby is not enough to deal with, now why don't we add terrorizing trauma to the mix. And people wonder why we can't just "move on" with our lives...!
Okay, I think it's time for my nap now...