Monday, August 14, 2017

A Boat on Denial

It worked as a form of relief, until I "fell off", then I felt like I was drowning. Last night was bad. Today at Walmart was bad. I kept imagining my daughter there, I could "see" her in my mind. I panicked. I held back tears and hurried to finish shopping. It's hard to drive with tears running down your face. My trigger today was probably a sky full of beautiful clouds. She would have been taking pictures.

I made it home, brought in the groceries and washed my eyes. Then I went to Aldi. It's easier there, because she and I were only there together once or twice. And they had mini succulents. My drug. I bought two Haworthia.

The bottom one has "windows" on its leaves, which are clear, to allow light inside the leaf. I will try to get a better picture.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Still Here, Still Hard

I haven't been writing much, because, well, how many times can I write about grief. No, I'm not "over it", but coping is beginning to happen more often. There are too many memories here, at this apartment complex. Have no idea when we will be able to move. I'm trying to keep busy. It doesn't always work.

The sun is noticeably changing position in the sky. August...mid summer, soon to be late summer, then fall. I love the change of seasons, yet the changes make me emotional, and vulnerable. With my daughter gone and my hubby working 12 hour shifts, that leaves me a lot of alone time to sulk, eat and otherwise sabotage my health. I spend a lot of time online, talking to people, friends, relatives, the succulent group, but then I'm just sitting. I don't like to walk alone. It would be nice to have a dog to walk. Nothing really good is happening here at this apartment complex. Too many memories.

My husband helps all he can. He takes me places, we talk, he tries to keep me positive. He hugs me when I cry and acknowledges how hard it is. It's not easy consoling a mother who has lost a child. It is a non-fixable, painful, sometimes debilitating situation. I am happy to report that when hubby and I are together, I am for the most part cheerful, and for that we are very grateful. I could never ask for a more loving and understanding man.

Each time we visited my daughter's grave I found it incredulous that I was standing there talking to the ground. "Why am I talking to the dirt? My daughter should be standing her talking to us!" I cried. Hubby said, "I know, I know, it's not right." We set flowers in metal holders and added bottled water. Hubby weeded the bare earth (do they even put down grass seed? I paid for perpetual care). I looked around the cemetery, knowing full well it was impossible, but hoping to see my daughter walking somewhere.

Sometimes when things become bad I write in the online grief support group I joined. I always receive support, answers, and suggestions to cope. One of the questions in the support group was, "Do you have a grief counselor?" The answers were surprising. Quite a few said yes. Some said they had been getting counseling and medication for years. Others said they tried but couldn't find a counselor who understood them. "Only someone who has lost a child can understand the scope of grief of someone who has lost a child." Others said they tried medication and had bad side effects, so they stopped taking it. Others said no counseling and no medication.

One day I started playing a mind game with myself. I decided to pretend that my daughter is still alive and just away, and that's why I haven't heard from her. I started to feel better, but then I began to worry about my state of mind. So I posted on the group:

"Does anyone go into denial, I mean, on purpose, just to be able to get through the day without feeling so horribly sad, crushed, soul shattered? Sometimes I pretend my daughter is just far away, back in Australia or something and that's why I don't hear from her. I know it's not true."

I've gotten 50 answers, 95% saying, yes, as a coping method, denial gives them a break from the pain, and in fact, going in an out of denial was mentioned by several as an approved way to cope from their experiences in support groups.

So, denial it is. On a boat on denial, it's more than a river in Africa.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gaining on a Slippery Slope

I fell a few times, emotionally, into the deep pit of despair. I contacted a friend. She talked me through it, let me cry on her virtual shoulder, because, well, she is in another state. Hubby had gone to work, and I was alone. But for the most part, I've been OK, even in the evening when I'm alone.

Shopping where my daughter worked is tough. I have a dark cloud over my head when I'm there, a strange sense of foreboding, even when I'm trying not to remember. Today a song came on the radio at the store and I panicked. I hurried to the garden center and told myself to breathe. And then I looked at flowers. And then all I could do is imagine her talking about them.

I went back in the store. The song was over. I hurried to finish so I could go home.

Hubby and I have been doing things on his days off. We visited a zoo just north of West Bend. They have golf carts for rent. We had been wanting to drive one again ever since my daughter in Indiana got married. The reception was at a golf course club house, and we got to drive the golf carts to a location on the course for photos. It was a heap of fun. When we arrived at the zoo and noticed they have carts we wanted to rent one. It was a very enjoyable 2 hours.

I am so thankful for my hubby and my older daughter, and yes, my Internet friends.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Breathing Again

I think I made it through the valley of the shadow of death, because that's what it felt like. I crawled out the other side broken, with pain down my back and in my chest every time I took a deep breath. I guess that can happen with the depth of my grief and the fact that I pretty much cried every day for 36 days. My hubby kept trying to tell me to stop grieving because I was making myself sick. More than once he wanted to take me to the ER. If I thought I had heart attack symptoms I surly would have gone. At first I thought, "Who cares, at least if I died I could see her again." And then I realized that was too permanent and not a good solution, so then I worried that I actually would die of a broken heart, like Debbie Reynolds when Carrie Fisher died.

Reading some comprehensive articles about grief helped me come to terms with it. Understanding that my scary thoughts were pretty normal helped. Knowing that I wasn't actually going to physically do something dangerous helped me to realize that I was just going through a horrible process. It also helped me to understand that my grief is a process that is dynamic and changing, and as long as it was changing then I am doing OK, because eventually the change will be to the better, and if not, if I get stuck, then I know to get help.

I see my doctor tomorrow. My chest is still a bit congested. I want her to check me out.

Going back to Harrington Beach was a turning point. It was the last nature walk with my daughter, on May 5, 2017, 26 days before she died. Hubby and I decided to go last Saturday. It was sunny and pleasant. Hubby was about halfway there when he noticed tears rolling down my face. He almost turned around to go home. I told him "No, let me work through this, I will be OK by the time we get there." He had doubts, but I was OK and we enjoyed our walk.

Yesterday I was able to look at my daughter's former apartment and I was OK. I was able to talk about her without tears.

The new friends I found at the showing didn't pan out. We are friends on Facebook, and we say "Hi" at Walmart, but that's about it. I understand. I'm not my daughter. I couldn't replace her in their lives. They can't replace her in mine, nor did I expect them to. It would have been nice to have some friends, but right now grief is in the way. People just want to get on with their lives, they don't want reminders. I have Facebook friends. I have my husband. I have my daughter in Indiana and her hubby and his two kids. They are most precious to me, and I am making a concerted effort to look forward.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Today Is A Better Day

Yesterday when my hubby came home from work in the morning I looked and felt terrible. I asked him to take me to buy vitamins. I took one. Hubby went to bed, and I pulled out some papers my doctor gave me at my last visit. I looked over the list of therapists and I looked over my Medicare benefits. Medicare would pay once treatment started, providing a diagnosis needing treatment was made by a physician. In other words, just as with the Chiropractor, I would be dinged for the full price of the initial visit, or consultation. I read the specialties of each doctor. A few dealt with grief, and of those, only one made it their goal to use non-medication means of treatment. Great. I already have a bottle of "happy" pills I'm not taking.

The vitamins have helped. I don't know why, but in the past, if I became particularly moody, a good multivitamin helped me turn the corner. So I will take one every day. I'm supposed to anyway, but I ran out.

Yesterday, about the time hubby woke up in the afternoon, the hot, humid air dropped away, leaving a beautiful fresh breeze. I turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows. We spent some precious time together outside before he had to leave for work. I contacted a friend on chat, and she and I talked while I sat outside on the porch and watched the sun set. After it set the mosquitoes came out, so I went inside. We talked some more, and then said good night. Once it is dark outside, my mood is better. I can turn to watching something on the internet. Last night I chose Masterpiece Theater. It was a good choice. It occupied me until bedtime.

So, let me explain that statement, "Once it is dark outside, my mood is better." It's something that has always happened to me. I cannot miss the sunset, I don't want to look at a TV or a computer, I just want to see it. I feel moody when I see it, a combination of wonder, artistic inspiration, intent on photographing it, desire to experience it, and some degree of sadness. Once the sunset is done and it's dark out, I'm fine. I can look at a computer or TV or the dishes or the stove or the food I'm cooking, whatever. It's interesting that years ago, when my mom was living with me and my first hubby, she told me the same thing, "Sunsets make me sad."

So I Googled it, just now. Apparently I'm not alone, but there appears to be no answer. SAD was mentioned. Yes, I have that, but that's a seasonal thing, not a sunset thing. Some people mentioned anxiety at sunset brought on by some childhood trauma. Nope, doesn't apply. Another person mentioned the brain releasing Dopamine at sunset. I have no idea. In any case, I have a whole history of emotions tied to they sky, sun and what I see out the window. Too much to write here, I will save it for the next post.

So, today continues to be a better day. It is cloudy, cool, dry, and the breeze is fresh. Hubby is sleeping, and I'm ok. I might have actually turned the corner onto the path of recovery. My heart is not feeling like a lead weight being compressed in a vice grip, I can breathe, and I'm not crying.

Reminding myself that I survived the loss of my mother helps. I called her and wrote to her for years through my married life, from 1969 until she moved to Indiana in 1992 (I think it was). After that, I would call her and buy her gifts, take her places, you name it. Loosing my Mom was a big loss in my life. I regretted having to put her in a nursing home, but my husband could not deal with her dementia nor her incontinence. He would not allow me to call in outside help.

Loosing my husband was different. His cancer was advanced. The treatment was aggressive. The side effects were horrible. I insisted on caring for him myself even though the doctors recommended a nursing home. My husband refused in-home care, and I refused to go through the guilt of putting him in a nursing home as I had my mom. When at last he passed I was at peace about it because I gave 110%. Then I found another husband.

I could not, nor did I expect to find another mother. Missing her is a part of my life. At least after a great deal of time I was able to talk about her without crying. I miss her when I have news I normally would have called her up or wrote her about. I think that may be a normal and lifelong reaction.

Loosing my daughter was the worst thing that ever happened in my life. Finding her was horribly traumatic. Trying to accept she was gone and not coming back was the hardest realization I ever had to face. She and I were always close. She wasn't much of a rebellious teen. When she started working and was still living at home she would take me shopping and buy me things. When she moved out she would pick me up and we would go places, or I would spend the weekend with her. She was my best friend. When she moved to Australia it was a tremendous heartbreak for me, but I didn't let her know, because she needed to have her own life. Having her move to Wisconsin and living so close was such a joy. My best friend was back! We shopped together. She took me places. I knew her budget was tight, so I bought things for her. We took nature walks together. We took pictures of the same clouds, the same lakes, the same flowers.

When she died I spiraled down into a horrible guilt trip of "If only." We all did. There were so many unanswered questions. Why didn't she ask for help. Why didn't she get medical help in Australia when she had such excellent insurance and care options. From early adulthood she assumed she had PCOS, which may have been the start of the giant ovarian cyst they found at autopsy. When she lived in Australia she told me her (then) husband and she had talked about her going to the doctor because of that. It's obvious she never went, something he confirmed after she passed. Her second husband also had insurance, as she did. He had surgery and the remaining bill (after insurance) was excused because of limited income. Surely she could have taken that as an example of what could be available to her. However, by that time her PCOS symptoms were going away. Another issue was her thyroid. I told her many times how important tests and treatment are because everyone on my mom's side of the family is on thyroid medicine. I talked to her about my own thyroid medicine and how it helped me feel better and loose weight.

Finances were another issue. In the past she bought a car that was too expensive. Car dealerships are real scumbags. They help you find a car you like and get approved for a loan for the price of the car. Then when they write up the deal they tack on all kinds of crap, plus taxes, that raise the cost of the loan. It happened 17 years ago and it happened again last year. I pleaded with my daughter to take action, to have the extra things she was paying extra for taken off. I told her I would go with her. Nothing worked. She insisted she could handle it. After she passed I discovered she was behind in everything except her car payments and rent.

I had pretty much guessed that things were hard for her. She expressed concerns over the fact that in August her rent and internet were going up. Hubby and I had been planning to buy a house, so we decided to include her in the plan. She could pay a much smaller amount and we could share many costs. It was a win-win proposition. We had trouble finding a suitable house. We needed three bedrooms and an extra bathroom, and in decent shape. We had roadblocks at every turn. We finally found one in another town. We had an appointment to see it on Saturday. She died on Thursday.

Sometime after the funeral, after we came home, one of my daughter's former coworkers came over. She told me my daughter didn't show any alarming signs. She did say she was tired, more than normal, and she didn't know why. Her friend suggested she see a doctor, to which my daughter responded, "It's too expensive."

I think she didn't know how serious she was. She told me there was a flower show and sale here in Hartford on June 3rd and she wanted to go. The night before she died she was making plans to visit a dear friend in Illinois after the 4th of July. She, my hubby and I were all pretty sure we would find a house this summer and we told her we would help her when her rent and internet went up in August. I'm sure she must have know that if she needed to take time off from work for any reason we would be there to help her.

As for the PCOS, my older daughter had symptoms as well. Neither of my daughters were ever able to get pregnant. But my older daughter has been seen by doctors. She has had tests and been checked out. Her health is excellent. She does need a light dose of thyroid medicine, but other than that, her heart and vitals are fine. Knowing that, and seeing my younger daughter look good, loosing weight and seeming fine when she moved here just lulled us all into complacency I guess.

I have pretty much worked through the pain of every picture I see of her, every place we went, everything we did together. I had to forgive myself for not taking her up on the offer to go out to eat together on May 29th. It still bothers me. Darn "if onlies". I still cry, but not as much, and for a lot shorter period of time. I loved her, do love her, so very, very much. I miss her so very, very much. She left a void in my life that cannot be filled, just dusted over, maybe a carpet thrown over. It is a hole I'm sure I will continue to fall in for the rest of my life, but over time the bruising and pain will lessen, as I pick myself up, dust myself off, and go on without my Angel.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Time Stands Still, Yet I Function

That sinking feeling...every time I drive by her apartment, every time I see her car still parked there. My heart hurts again. Sometimes my chest tightens up and I need to remind myself to breathe. Sometimes tears flood down, just for a bit, until I can get out a tissue and take a deep breath.

My mind is stuck in the time when she was alive. In my mind I "see" her meeting me at her back door. I hand her something or she hands something to me. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Her back door faced the corner, where the deer come out to feed and the fireflies dance. She could lock the screen door and keep her inside door open, during the day. Sometimes we would walk back and forth between our two apartments because she was moving stuff over from when she lived here with us.

Or when I go downstairs to the basement I can "see" her when she tripped and fell on her knee. Thankfully it was only the last 3 steps and she wasn't hurt bad. When I shop at Walmart I feel the loss every moment I'm there. So many times I would see her there when I shopped, or hubby and I shopped. We would buy her something to drink and invite her to come over after work. She and I would always end up laughing about something. My mind can "see" her driving past our apartment on her way home, or walking over to visit. I "see" her meeting me out at her car because we are going somewhere together. Every place we went together brings me pain.

I am forgetful. I worry myself when I drive, because my mind keeps wandering off and I find myself staring at the road mindlessly. I better restrict my driving for awhile. I keep eating chocolate but it doesn't kill the pain.

Shopping for flowers. We did that a lot, together, at Walmart, at ACE Hardware, at Stein's Garden Center, at Home Depot. I went to ACE again yesterday, and I could "hear" her in my mind again, like I did before, commenting on the flowers.

I have figured out that my heart is not ready to move forward. I am still dwelling in the past. I'm pretty good around people. They cheer me up. I can talk and even laugh. If it wasn't for the awful summer heat and humidity I would talk to hubby about moving back to Indiana to be closer to my older daughter.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

This and That

My friend couldn't come. Her grandmother was going into Hospice. My hubby was off work yesterday. We got coffee from Perc Place. I wasn't feeling well, so we didn't do a lot. I am better today, pretty much. Hubby took me shopping. He was happy he got me to laugh. I'm afraid he's going to go broke trying to "fix" me. He bought me some Capri pants and two blouses, all on sale at JC Penny.

I've been eating too much. I gained weight. My blood sugar has been high. I'm trying to pretend to care, but in reality, I do care because it looks like I'm going to survive this and go on living. I do care about my husband and my older daughter, and I want to be ok for them.

It's been 38 days. I'm exhausted. I've cried pretty much every single one of them.

I joined a couple Facebook groups for grief support, one for the loss of a child and one for sudden loss. I shared my story and shared pictures. The response was compassionate and from many, many people. But the groups quickly became overwhelming as so many people shared their own grief. I had to unfollow and step back.

We are still waiting for the autopsy report.

That's about all I feel like writing for today.