Grief In The Night

A week ago, I had a really rough night.  I had been sick with an upper respiratory infection, been sad, and been dealing with a lot.  So, my grief seemed to get the better of me for a little while.  This blog is about that experience.

I shared it with some loved ones prior to posting it.  One of them said that guilt is not of God.  That is true and so very important to remember.  However, when the guilt comes to you in the middle of the night, you tend to believe it, at least for a little while.

When I am sick, I often feel sad or bad.  I suppose I get the blues at those times.  So on this recent Sunday night, I was up until about 12:30 a.m. with a coughing fit that just wouldn’t stop.  I made some hot tea, got a mouthful of cough drops and then started thinking of my late husband and everything that happened the day that he died.

Parts of that entire morning are still there in vivid clarity. I remember him falling out of the bed face down, I remember trying to turn him over and figure out how to help him. I remember calling 911.  While I was still talking, two police officers came in to the house, turned him over and started CPR.

Soon after they arrived, several firefighters arrived to help, then the paramedics from the ambulance service.  They all worked on my love while I talked with the officers about what happened.  As they worked, our son was still asleep upstairs – having no idea what was going on.

I then called my parents to see if they could come over and help.  I was not sure that I could drive us to the hospital.  Before they got there, Kirk was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  I had no idea at that time that I would not see him alive again.

I prayed for him to be okay, grabbed his wallet, and my purse, etc.  Then woke up Ian and said we all had to go to the hospital since his dad was taken there.  We then went to the emergency department where I told his name to the person at the desk and presented his insurance card.

We were then led into a side room, not a room where they were working on him.  I should have known something was very wrong with that but I was still in shock at this point and hopeful.  Then a doctor and nurse came in and told us what you hear in movies or TV that changes lives forever.  “We did all we could but we couldn’t revive him.  He has passed away.”

We were all crushed and stunned to hear this news.  I then went to see him and touched his cold hand.  I looked at the man who was my love and had been so full of life.  I cried, I inwardly screamed, and I was in total and complete shock.  It was so hard to see him like that, but part of me knew that he was no longer in pain and was in a better place.  Still, I wanted him to come back to us.

I came back and forth twice to continue to check on Ian since I was worried about how he was doing.  I asked for Kirk’s wedding ring and the nurse took it off his hand and gave it to me.  I feel guilty that I didn’t stay with Kirk longer.  I felt like I deserted him since I didn’t sit vigil with him until the funeral home and donor services came to get him.

I still have some guilt since I put our son before him, although he was my spouse and first love.  But, now I realize that he would have wanted me to comfort our son and be with him.  He would have understood why I had to do what I did.  After all, he loved our child as much as I do.

Thinking back on it, I think he might have been gone as soon as he hit the floor at home.  An autopsy was done that said he had an enlarged heart along with a few other issues.  So, he apparently had a heart attack when he fell.  I have no concept of the length of time that he was on the floor before I called and reacted.  I just hope and pray that if I took too long, that wasn’t part of why he didn’t make it.

So there is guilt about that as well.  And, during that recent middle of the night when I was already not feeling well, it reared its ugly head.  I still feel I should have done more, reacted sooner, called earlier, whatever.  But would that have actually made a difference?

I don’t know, but it is something that I continue to think about.  And, I continue to ask my love to forgive me for failing him since that is what it feels like I did.  I hope that I can one day forgive myself and realize that I truly did all that I could.  That it was, in fact, his time to go, despite what I wanted.

I do know that 10 or more people worked on him between who came to our house, in the ambulance and the staff at the hospital.  They all tried to revive him but had no luck that would actually stick.  And that is heartbreaking.

We had plans; we had just talked about some changes in our life the day before he passed away.  He was excited about them and looking forward to what came next.  I am not sure he had any idea of what was coming.  He didn’t feel well but we thought it was a cold and allergy issues that we all were dealing with.  We thought there was time the next day to take him to the doctor.

So this year on that Sunday night, after crying and thinking about everything from that awful day, I was finally able to settle down and rest.  The next day continued as a normal school day.  It was still hard and full of emotions, but I made it though.  I was able to see the good in our lives and move forward.

I have talked with other people who have also lost loved ones.  A few of them also feel some guilt about wishing more could have been done or an opportunity was missed, or that it was bad timing.  That seems to be part of the grief process of the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventual acceptance.

Friends and family regularly ask me how I am doing.  Some days, I am able to say pretty well.  But other days, I am broken and sad and not sure what to do with myself.  So, I cry, I pray, and I think about a lovely memory with Kirk.  I try to remember that he is not in pain, that he wouldn’t have liked living as any less than the man that he was.  It is comforting to know that he is in Heaven waiting to see us again.  That is my comfort in this journey that continues to ebb and flow.

I am still a work in progress and probably will be for a long time to come.  It helps me to write about my feelings and to share them.  And, crying also helps.  It also helps to talk about Kirk, to see his picture, to laugh at a memory or a story that he told us, to laugh at jokes he told, and to tell Ian what a wonderful man his dad was.

Ian is growing into someone who Kirk would be very proud of.  He has so much of his dad in him.  That is a blessing and something I treasure. Still I wish his dad was actually here to see it.  I continue to be reminded of all of the things that he is missing and that is a challenge.

If you too are grieving, may you find support, may you have healing, and may you find your way.  May you know that some days will hurt like hell.   May you know that some days will be full of regret and guilt but that some will have hope and joy.

May we live in honor or those who are no longer with us.  May we make the most of the time we have with our loved ones.  May we be thankful for another day.  May we have healing on our path of grief.  And may God continue to bless us.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…

Christmas.  It is certainly looking a lot like Christmas.  Decorations are up at stores, gifts are being purchased, music is on the radio including my favorite, Andy Williams — Happy Holidays and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year — and movies are playing often and have been since before Halloween.

However, it doesn’t quite look like it at our house.  How about at your house?  It is amazing that we are two weeks from this holiday.  I don’t know about you but I am so not ready and the crazy thing is that I am not panicked or worried about it. I am doing a little bit at a time and hope I get there in time.

I seem to be more interested in being with my loved ones, rather than thinking through the gifts, cards, food, etc.  So far, I am not very worked up about being so behind.  I wonder if that will change as the date gets closer.  After all in the last year, just functioning and getting out of the house on some days was a major effort.

We do have our advent calendars up, some festive mugs, and a few other things, but not the tree yet (these photos are from previous years).  Last year, the tree was up but we never decorated it.  I just couldn’t bring myself to after losing my husband.  This year, Ian wants to decorate it and continue our traditions that didn’t happen last year.  So, we will work on it this week.

Both of us are wanting to do our traditions again this year and that feels good.  Our church recently presented a children’s program that was a lot of fun and Ian enjoyed it.  Then lunch afterwards and a visit from Santa.  A nice tradition that we have enjoyed for quite a while.

Over the weekend, I was thinking about writing about something other than just my grief and that felt good and at the same time, very strange.  Even though I am writing about a few other subjects, it is still there and still here in this blog.

I am starting to feel more like myself again. Part of me feels guilty about that but I realize that I have to keep moving forward. My son needs me and I most certainly need him.

Although I feel like myself again, part of me is missing.  Loss and grief are tough that way.  I am healing but know that I will never be the same.  I have learned a lot about myself, my loved ones, and what is most important.  Those who have also lost loved ones can relate.

I also know that there is much to be thankful for and much to live for.  Yet, some days, that is hard to remember and hard to accept. The grief and pain often finds a way to seep into the day, into our thoughts, and into what we are doing. The ups and downs continue and seem to be the new normal.

So, I decided it might be fun to share some random thoughts and items about myself. They may be trivial but I am okay with that and welcome it.  Enjoy.

  • Fuzzy socks make me happy and are things that I regularly wear at this time of year. I am normally a flip-flop person but with the colder weather, I do have to wear flat shoes and my socks. The softer and fluffier the better for me.  I am not a high-heeled person.
  • For my birthday, my cousin gave me a lovely plush blanket. It is soft and wonderful to sit under. Perfect for this time of year. I have it while reading a book, watching television, and taking a nap.
  • Peppermint, mint chocolate, pumpkin, and gingerbread are some of my favorite flavors this time of year. I am trying to be careful to not overdo it but do enjoy a candy cane or two most days.
  • Soups with bread or crackers are a regular staple at this time of year.  I like a variety of them — tomato, chicken and rice, lentil, and more, and enjoy using large mugs for them.
  • Pictures of my family and friends are some of my greatest treasures.  I like to give them as gifts. A special memory means a lot to people.
  • Comfort is very important to me and these things are helping to have that.  During the winter, there is not much better than a warm drink, my warm socks, warm blanket, a tasty food or treat, and a favorite movie, book, or chat with Ian or another loved one. Perhaps the occasional glass of wine is also nice and sparkling water.
  • I do like all of this warmth, unless I am having a hot flash and then it is a different story.  Ha, ha, ha!!  I am after all of a certain age.
  • Simple things are what make me happy and I need down time and time to rest and just be.  Ian and I both are homebodies and enjoy being there. We do also enjoy being with our loved ones and having overnight visits and special times with them.
  • Music is also important to me. I have many favorite Christmas songs and other special music that I always want to listen to each year. Hymns and songs at our church are also very special. I often will sing along with the radio and enjoy them very much.
  • My thoughts and prayers are with our family and friends.  We want the best for them, want them to be healthy, to heal if hurting, and to know they are loved and appreciated.
  • And finally, I do want peace on earth, really I do. I want us to be kinder to each other, to talk not yell, to listen without judgement, to love not hate, and to live peacefully together.  And to treat one another with kindness.

Blessings to you and yours.