The spectrum of grieving

The spectrum of emotions that I experience in any 24 hour period is overwhelming sometimes. I go from upbeat and positive to gloomy and weepy with nary a second between.

I hate Thursdays. It is now officially 3 weeks since D-Day (diagnosis day). I remember exactly how I felt on the night before we found out. Alison was here. I decided to do something frivolous and light-hearted to get my mind off of things, so I was watching Bring It On –  yes, the cheerleading movie. As I sat there, trying to enjoy it, I felt like I was standing at the edge of a great abyss, just waiting to fall in. Truthfully, I knew what was coming the following day, but I didn’t KNOW for certain. There was still the chance, however slight, that the blood test was wrong. I felt sort of like a cartoon character. You know when Wile E Coyote runs off a cliff, and for a moment, he hangs suspended in the air, legs pumping furiously, before he plummets downwards? That was exactly  how I felt.

It’s hard to tell sometimes if my grief is manifesting itself as physical symptoms or if my amniotic fluid level and cold is just making me fatigued. I guess it’s likely both. Yesterday, I slept until 1230p. Jim was working all day, so I was “taking care” of the girls. I.e. Evaline watched TV until noon, and Hazel stayed in bed with me, watching TV until I dragged myself out of bed. I had lunch with them, then went to the couch, and napped until 430pm. The girls were amazingly self-sufficient yesterday, so I was able to sleep to my heart’s desire.

I want to blame it on the intense fatigue that too much activity causes (high fluid levels), but I also wonder if this isn’t depression manifesting itself in a physical way. It’s funny that you can be approaching something with a positive attitude but also feel profoundly grief-stricken and depressed at the same time.

Repeatedly, I’ve heard mothers of special needs children to tell me to be kind to myself. It may sound trite, but it’s true. Yesterday was a very unsuccessful parenting day. I was short-tempered with the kids (when I was awake), I felt angry all day and slammed cabinets and dishes around, and generally had no emotional reserves on which to rely. Of course, once the kids went to bed, I sat and felt angry at myself for not being a better mother, for not being more patient, more loving, less critical, more understanding. And then I remembered that wisdom, “Be kind to yourself,” and I realized that it was true. I’m going to have really bad days, and I just have to remind myself of what we are facing, and that it’s ok to not be in a great mood 100% of the time, and let myself have those feelings.

Grief is supposed to happen in stages. What no one ever tells you about grief is that the stages aren’t necessarily separated into easily identifiable categories. On any given day, I go from numbness, to bargaining, to anger, to acceptance, and then do it all over again. Grief is a spectrum, and on every day, heck, every hour, I fall somewhere along it.

Today, I managed to get up, eat breakfast with girls, and have a shower. I have a non-stress test at 245pm, and I am contemplating whether I am up to some minor errands in the interim. I’m not feeling it. But at least I showered. And brushed my teeth. Now I am fighting the urge to lie down on the couch for a nap.


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