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.

Joy and Sadness

This morning I read a quote to choose joy.  The quote added that life isn’t always great but that we can decide to be joyful and have things be okay.  While I like this idea very much, I find that lately I have joy and sadness together.  That is the norm after grieving the loss of a loved one, at least it is for me.

Being both happy and sad at the same time is confusing, odd, painful, but only too real at this point in my life.  I continue to be sad at our loss but also am happy that I have our son to share the journey with.  He continues to impress me, motivate me, and makes me laugh. So, he helps to make me joyful.

Some things that make me joyful are a lovely sunrise or sunset, or a laugh with a friend, or a delicious meal, or a chat with my family, or a favorite song, or a great book that I can be lost in.  There is a lot of good still in life along with the loss, the pain, and the sorrow.  For that I am thankful.

This summer was all about trying to find some joy and I think we succeeded.  We had interesting adventures with clients and their children, had some time to play, had time to relax, had time to have fun, and had time to mourn.

As the Bible states, there is a time to every purpose under Heaven.  Each thing both good and bad, happy and sad has its place.  Just trying to navigate that sometimes is tough and can hurt so very much.  Other times, we laugh over favorite memories, a funny story, or a cherished photo.

We continue to have mixed emotions as I am sure everyone does 8 months after the sudden loss of someone who meant so very much.  Even it if isn’t sudden, the absence takes a long, long time to accept and get used to.  And frankly, I am not there yet.

Instead, we try to have the absence be a part of our life.  We talk about Kirk, we laugh about Kirk and his jokes, we celebrate Kirk’s birthday at a restaurant that he would have liked, we look at pictures, and talk about what we think he is doing in Heaven.

We cry, we scream, we grieve, we miss him, and we are thankful for the times that we did have.  We are blessed to have known him, blessed to have loved him.  I feel so blessed to have been his wife and Ian is blessed to have had him as his father.  He was an amazing man, with flaws and so much love.

We also know that he would want us to carry on and continue to live a good life.  I do believe that he is with us and watching over us and that is a comfort.  Still, I do want to talk with him one last time.  I want to tell him I love him and give him a hug.

I took this photo this morning during a walk. It made me joyful. It looked to me like a window into Heaven through the clouds. I looked up and said hi to Kirk.  Maybe odd, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. So, again some joy through my tears.

I read a headline of an article that states that it is helpful for those grieving to talk to the one they lost.  I don’t know about anyone else but I do that regularly.  I talk with Kirk about something that Ian did, I ask him to forgive me, I tell him I love him, I tell him how missed he is and how loved he still is.  I just wish there was an answer back.

For those of us grieving, may we be comforted by our memories, may we know how much love there was between us and the one(s) we lost, and may we know that happiness with sadness is okay and to be expected.

I did want to share that scripture that came to mind.  The time for every purpose under Heaven is in Ecclesiates 3: 1-8, which states:

  • “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
  • ” A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
  • ” A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
  • “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  •  “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  • “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  • “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  •  “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

May we find our purpose, may we be kind to one another, and may we always, always love.