Losing Myself in Grief

I get up every morning with the sun (or before as I don’t sleep much these days).  I shower, feed the kids, we work hard at school, we run to piano, swim lessons, the bank, the grocery store.  I smile at all the right people, make the necessary eye contact, and speak politely to the friendly mom sitting next to me.

But I’m not there.  The person you see isn’t me.  I don’t really know who that blond haired woman is.

I’m a bundle of emotions-sad, fearful, depressed, angry, lost, and empty.  Did you know empty is an emotion?  I didn’t either.

People ask me how I am.  Those close to me look me in the eye and inquire, wanting a deeper answer.  I tell everyone we are pushing through the best we can because I don’t know what else to say.  I can’t explain to them that much of the time I feel empty, alone, exhausted.  How do I tell them that their friend, daughter, sister died back in August?  The person standing in front of them is not who they think she is.  The happy, enthusiastic woman I once was is gone, replaced by a stranger I never thought I’d become.

I react now to things that I never would before, but what bothers me more are the times I don’t react.  The days I am not rushing around cleaning, cooking healthy meals, creating fun projects.  These are the days I don’t care.  The little boys stay in their pajamas and I forget to brush their teeth.  The older kids need help in school and I tell them to skip it.  We will do it tomorrow.  They beg me to play with them, but I can’t.  I don’t want to play.  I don’t want to talk.  I don’t want to feel.

Days go by, weeks, months, holidays, birthdays, fun days.  I bring the kids, laughing and joining in because that is what I have to do to get by, too survive, to not disappear into my hole.  I need to put my living kids first.  They need a mom, right?

They don’t realize their mom died with their sister.

In the beginning, I was so overcome with grief that I could see nothing else.  People surrounded me, tried to hug my hurt away, told me time will lessen the pain, the first months are the hardest.  I wondered at the time how I could possibly live through such pain.  Why don’t more people die from a broken heart?

I can honestly say that I made it through that deep grief, but the place I’m in now is not better.  I’m in an unnamed space watching the world go on around me and unable to join it.  I am lost.

I have lost myself in grief.  It swallowed me up and spit out some other woman.  I do not know who she is.

Grief is a strange creature because it is constantly changing.  It is unpredictable and cruel, but then it lets up for a second and you realize that you are still alive.  Recently, I have had moments when Caleb made me laugh hard and I remembered how we used to joke around.  Moments when I knelt down in front of Micah, looked into his hazel eyes, and focused on what he was saying to me.  I chased my crazy little Joshua around the house, relishing the sounds of his excited squeals.  Joel started calling me “mama” in a sweet, tiny voice and my heart melted.

I cooked Micah’s favorite breakfast- just for him (and because our hens are laying a dozen eggs a day and we have them coming out of our ears!).  He said “oh, I love this egg bake!” and I smiled because I love him.

Sometimes I wish the hurt would go away.  Everyone understands this, but what they don’t get is that I wish this impostor would go away also.

I wish I could be the old me-the me that died.

There are no words of wisdom nor verses that come to mind.  My only hope is that “this too shall pass”.

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5 thoughts on “Losing Myself in Grief”

  1. I always think it’s such a cruel blow that not only do we lose our loved one but we also lose ourselves. As if the pain of losing them wasn’t enough to endure for a lifetime, we then have to find ourselves again in the burnt out vessel we have become. Only, most of the time, we don’t want to.

    1. I never would have understood losing myself if I hadn’t experienced it. This post is dear to my heart because I think very few people understand it. The truth is, we haven’t actually died and the real us is still there somewhere behind the grief. I’m sorry for your loss.

  2. I’ve been going through this the last year, keeping myself in a constant state of distraction. I understand the uncomfortable emptiness. For a while I thought that if I didn’t acknowledge the pain, then I wouldn’t feel it. In the last few weeks, I’ve finally accepted it, verbally acknowledged it, cried like a little baby for a few days, and it honestly helped. I’m not saying it made it better AT ALL, but it softened the ache. It lessened the dread of the quiet moments when the pain would start creeping in. Having people to care for definitely helped in getting me out of bed and keeping going.
    How I wish I could heal your heart and my own, but only time will do that. Just stay open and when you need to hurt and cry or be angry, let yourself. It’s all part of the process.

    1. Thank you for sharing your heart with me and I am sorry that you also carry this pain. You are so right about staying open and letting yourself feel the hurt and anger. I have learned that as well. If I try to keep it in too long, I end up completely melting down. Hugs from my broken heart to yours.

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lessons from home
Hello! I'm Heather and this is Baby Joel, the youngest of five. At Lessons from Home you will find encouragement for your parenting and homeschooling journey. Healing from loss is also a major part of this blog as my family struggles through grief and brokenness at the loss of my beautiful 8 year old daughter.
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