Forever In My Heart FIMHF Week 27. Grief and Depression. Yep, I’m going there today. That other nasty “D” word that no one likes to talk about. Like it’s something you should be ashamed of, or you’re worried that you will be judged for or made to feel guilty about. Depression is nothing more than the realization of the true extent of the death or loss. There are different forms of depression. There’s functional depression where you can still manage to get up and go on with your day, and non-functional, where your thought process is cloudy and you have no desire to do the daily activities of life. Either way, the common signs of depression include trouble sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, and crying spells. We may also have self-pity and feel lonely, isolated, empty, lost, and anxious. Let me tell you I cried for over 30 days straight. I woke up crying. I went to bed crying. I would just break out and cry in the middle of the day just looking at Myesha’s pictures on the wall. One minute you may feel “fine”, only to slip back into deep grief the next. Grief is not linear. It takes multiple forms at different times. It is influenced, among other things, by the strength of our attachment to the lost loved one and how central he/she was to our lives. It never really ends. It ebbs after a while, but can then emerge on birthdays and anniversaries, holidays, in certain places, or triggered by something like a special song. Being a musical family that we are, songs are a real trigger for us. Grief is an automatic reaction, presumably guided by brain circuitry activated in response to a world suddenly, profoundly, and irrevocably altered by a loved one’s death. Sometimes, reminders of the loss are so painful that the bereaved person goes to great length to avoid these, and thoughts about the death are so intensely painful that it is difficult to reflect on it and make peace with the loss.
So now we move into what’s referred to as “Complicated Grief”. Sometimes people experience a more significant and longer-lasting level of grief. Complicated grief is somewhere between grief and depression. Symptoms of complicated grief include: difficulty thinking of anything other than your loved one’s death, lasting longing for your deceased loved one, difficulty accepting that your loved one is gone, long-lasting bitterness over the loss feeling as if your life no longer has meaning, difficulty trusting others, difficulty remembering positive memories of your loved one. Grieving that gets worse instead of better.
I personally experienced “Complicated Grief”. But who wouldn’t in my situation. My daughter went in for a “routine” ankle surgery. An ankle surgery that went all wrong and before we realized what was happening, she died less than 31 hours after going back to the hospital insisting something was severely wrong. I watched my daughter on Friday, July 17th code 3 times in 45 minutes. I watched as a room full of doctors and nurses rushed in and hand bagged her breathing tube and shocked her with the paddles repeatedly. Chest compressions. Paddles. Chest compressions. Paddles. Her body violently jolting off the bed with every shock. Bodily fluids shooting out her mouth and breathing tube. I listened to her sister screaming and crying in fear for her sister’s life. I fell to my knees and cried out to Jesus to not take my baby. All I could do was yell “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Every time they got her back and I thought I could catch my breath, she would code again. Those monitors. The beeping. The sound of the flat line. The sound of it coming back. The sound of them losing her again. “WE’RE LOOSING HER!!!” The panic in the doctor’s voices. My heart racing. My child laying there lifeless. But they finally got her back. Thank you Jesus for saving my child!! Or so I thought. Only to have the doctor tell me that after over 45 minutes with 74% oxygen rate that my child was now going to be brain dead if she survived this infection that so violently took over her body. That I, her mother, the one who gave her life, now had to make a choice to continue doing whatever it would take to save her life if she coded again, or let her go. You mean you want ME, her mother to make that choice!! Are you kidding me!! I have to make the choice whether to let my child die, or live. Is this really happening?? Why me?? What did I do to deserve this?? Why was God punishing me??? I looked at Chloe, her sister. Shock had taken over. I couldn’t think. Chloe starred back at me with as much disbelief. She asked, “Mom, what are we going to do?” I said, “Chloe I don’t know. But I don’t want to let her go. I can’t live without her.” Chloe looks over at her sister and turns to me and says with all of her 14 years of wisdom, “Mom. Myesha would not want to live like this. She would not want people to have to take care of her for the rest of her life. That’s not what she would want.” I looked at Myesha. I looked at Chloe. At that moment I felt as if I was standing outside of my own body and watching everything transpire as if I was in some type of horrible movie. But I knew Chloe was right. At that point I knew the decision had to be made and it was time to start making phone calls for people to come and say their goodbyes as quickly as possible. I’m so thankful my baby girl stayed strong long enough, 11 hours to be exact, for her friends and family to say goodbye and for me to hold her in my arms, and for ME to tell them to turn the machines off, instead of her coding again.
Complicated Grief. You bet I have it!!
So then there comes a point when grief takes over your life and you begin to feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless and it’s okay to seek help. Individual counseling, group therapy, whatever it takes, do it!! My family and I were introduced to Kidzcope and it made a huge impact on our lives. But it’s also important to find other health promoting behaviors such as exercise, sunlight, good nutrition, although these may become feasible only after the darkest periods begin to lift. But there also comes a point where it’s okay to reach out to your family doctor and ask for antidepressant medications and depression-focused medications. They reduce symptoms, enhance functioning, and improve well-being. While there isn’t a pill that will get rid of your grief, there are medications available that can assist with symptoms of the grief process. For some, prescribed medication to deal with these symptoms clears the way and helps individuals to deal with the emotional and mental aspects of loss. Most of the time this is just temporary. It’s okay. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Medication doesn’t turn you into a “zombie”. It simply helps you function on a daily basis while you are going through the grief process.
I chose this topic today because I have had the chance to talk to a number of people recently who have reached out to me with my blogs and I feel touching on the topic will be a huge help. Like other forms of love, grief can be an avenue for personal change and growth. It’s not going to happen overnight. It may take years. However, losing a loved one doesn’t mean your life is over, but it does mean things will be different. Seeking help and support can help you feel better. With time, you can find healing that will help you move forward with life while also celebrating your loved one’s memory. (((HUGS))) today to all who have experienced grief. Mommy love you Myesha. FIM<3F