I understand how you feel.
Completely. I lost a forty year old son to brain cancer two and a half years ago. I want to tell you what I felt like then and what I feel like now so you won't think you're going crazy.
Because I know that sometimes you do feel like a crazy person. Crazy with grief. I felt like I'd died with my son. Gone down into the grave with him. And at the same time I felt as if his death wasn't real. It couldn't be. He couldn't be dead. I'd just seen him, kissed him on Friday. He couldn't have died on Sunday. Why did he die? Why?
All I could think about was him. Day and night. I wandered around in a daze. And the daze lasted for months. Nothing seemed real except re-living his suffering, his death, and his funeral. My sleep patterns were so erratic. Sometimes I'd have insomnia most of the night, my mind just looping. Other times all I could do was sleep. No matter how much sleep I got I was always tired. Listless. Paralyzed by volcanic emotions so I could only accomplish what was absolutely necessary.
And tears? It seemed they never stopped. Sometimes absolute howls of grief. Or rage. If I wasn't crying on the outside, I was crying inside.
And it seemed as if my memory no longer worked. I could forget almost anything. Nothing seemed to stay with me.
I kept expecting the phone to ring. To see him coming in the door. Sometimes I even picked up the phone to call him.
The most important thing for you to know is that all this is normal. And that the pain eases eventually, but very slowly. Grief this deep can't heal quickly, no matter what anyone tells you. It takes years. In fact it never heals completely. Grieving never totally ceases - how could it? But life changes into the New Normal where you can co-exist with your grief and still live a fulfilled life.
You will laugh again. I promise. You will be able to find joy in the other people in your life who matter to you. What got my husband and me through our grief were our four other children, their spouses, and our grand-children. They deserved our love and attention. We knew that they were grieving too.
No matter what relationship you had with the one who has died, you undoubtedly know others who are suffering from his or her death. Stay close. Share your grief. Share your good memories. Share yourselves. The one gift of grief is that it can bring people closer together in love and intimacy because grief breaks us open so we can let others into our lives.
In losing a son, we felt terrible Survivor Guilt - how could we outlive a son? It wasn't normal. Our son's siblings were going through their own survivor guilt and loss. We needed to be there for them. I remember attending an event for a grand-daughter soon after our son died. She looked at me, needing my support as she did something new. I smiled and nodded at her, and in my love I experienced the first joy I'd felt since our son's death.
If you're married, don't forget that individuals grieve differently. My husband needed "work and/or exercise therapy"- to be physically active to work through his grief. I felt paralyzed and often couldn't work. He was silent. I needed to talk about it. He's an extrovert and wanted the t.v. on all the time. I, the introvert, needed silence. He liked watching videos of our son. I couldn't bear to. We learned to respect each others' differences and give each other space to be. But we also both did go for grief counseling. We acknowledged that we couldn't make this journey alone.
The hardest relationship for me to work through was my relationship with God. I'm a Christian. Yet I vented so much anger at God: "Why did You let my son die?" I felt abandoned by my Best Friend. And then I remembered Jesus hanging on the cross crying out "My God! My God! Why have You abandoned me?" And I didn't feel so alone.
Jesus understood what I was experiencing because he suffered. Jesus understood death because he died. And the Resurrected Christ promises us eternity. Slowly slowly over many months I came to accept the Mystery - that God has reasons and plans for each of us that we will not understand until we reach heaven. And my greatest consolation is my belief that my son lives in heaven, healed and whole, and that he watches over and prays for all of us.
I also healed through gratitude. Gratitude that this beautiful person had been in my life. I got to the point that good memories could be a comfort. The roller coaster of grief continues. But it's not so intense, so all-consuming. I can believe I am still on this earth for a reason.
Right now, some days you will feel shattered, hopeless. But a card may come. Or a friend may call. Or someone may smile and hug you. Soak up all that love - you need it and you deserve it, and Love heals you. One day, when you've healed enough, you will be able to be there for others because your compassion has grown by leaps and bounds. You're a Survivor.