I’m choosing to repost this because it is that time of year when I hit the wall and and I hit it hard. I go into protect mode and I withdraw from everything – why – because you don’t want to see it, feel it or touch it – it being the pain
I feel as each October comes and goes. I relive it all over and over again and in doing
so I hit the wall over and over again.
I had a lot to think about after watching “Love Happens” this past weekend. As you may recall from my blog post yesterday, this movie is about a guy who has lost his wife and after her death he writes a book. As the book becomes successful he goes out and conducts seminars with people who are stuck in the grieving process.
Again without taking too much from the ending, I wanted to address the real problem with getting stuck in grief from my own personal perspective. I’m not a therapist, but I do know a little something about grief and about the various setbacks and progress one experiences during their journey.
Fear – what is it? Fear can be paralyzing. Fear can be deafening. Fear can be what I call the Wall. In the many books I’ve read over the past three years there seems to be a prevailing similarity between each author and that is they all experienced fear as a setback in their journey. But where does that fear come from. I believe it can start at the very core of who a person is. I also believe it can be from an experience so horrific it paralyzes you to the point that you feel as if any move you make will be the wrong one. You just can’t move forward. You don’t trust anyone. You don’t trust in life.
The Wall I am referring to is one I hit pretty early and I hit it hard. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t seem to move forward. Why after progressing so well in my journey did I suddenly come to a standstill? After seeing this movie I believe I finally understand why.
In the weeks before Brittany’s death we had just gotten the news that her epilepsy had progressively gotten worse and without reason. It rocked our world beyond belief. How could she have gotten a clean bill of health before going to Costa Rica and then return showing signs of new seizure activity. We just didn’t understand it. As a nurse I truly felt helpless.
On the eve of her death, she had called me at work saying one of her hands felt weird – like when she’s been on the computer too much. So I told her to call me in an hour if it wasn’t any better. She never did call me and when I got home a few hours later she said it was totally better. Then an hour later after watching some TV and talking on the phone to her boyfriend I found her having a grand mal seizure in the chair at her desk.
Her friend and I rushed to get her out of the chair and I administered the medication to bring her out of it. We hadn’t needed that medication in years. She hadn’t had a grand mal seizure in 4 years. The seizure activity she was experiencing to that date was all petit mal. Most of the time you would have never seen her have a seizure.
As a nurse, I knew something was not going right. This medication had stopped the activity years before, but not this time. So paramedics were called and they spend more valuable time arguing with me about whether or not she was still seizing. Seriously, why argue with a mother who, one was a nurse and two had been dealing with this child’s illness for 17 years. Seriously.
Once at the hospital, things grew progressively worse until she was admitted into Peds. ICU. And then she became increasingly unstable and in 12 hours the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do. So we had to make a decision to stop the attempts to resuscitate her. The most horrific moment in my life. Looking that doctor in the eye and telling him to stop CPR. I knew she would never recover. As a nurse I knew she’d be in a coma or a in vegetative state for the rest of her life. She had gone into multi-organ failure and there was nothing anyone could do. Except for God.
I prayed so hard earlier that night. Praying for God to heal or take her so she wouldn’t suffer anymore. Little did I know he would honor the second part of that prayer. I think in some small way I feel guilty about that. Maybe I didn’t have enough faith. Maybe because I said “or take her” that was a test of my faith and I failed miserably. I couldn’t even save my own daughter. I remember thinking “I’m a damn nurse and pediatric nurse and I can’t even save my own daughter.”
I wondered often in the months after her death if I’d missed something critical. Did I overlook some sign that I could have been more proactive. I tore myself up month after month asking God why. Why would he take her from me. Hadn’t I suffered enough. It took me a long while to get to a place where I knew it wasn’t about me. But it’s a place a lot of grieving parents get stuck.
The “Wall” I hit – the fear I succumbed to – finally took its toll on me physically and mentally. I felt I couldn’t stay in clinical practice any longer. I’m seriously. How could I expect to help save a life, when I couldn’t even save my own daughter’s life. Remembering I’m a pediatric nurse. I just couldn’t bring myself to work any longer in the job I loved – taking care of kids. I lived in fear every day that I would be presented with having to be involved in saving the life of a child and it would all come back to me. The fear was paralyzing.
Facing this fear has to be the first step in the recovery of grief. I hit the Wall of Fear and I hit it hard. So this meant I had to do some hard work. In fact, I’m still a work in progress, but with God’s help and the help of many friends, I have come a long way. But I have a long way to go. For grief stays with you forever. My daughter’s memory will be with me forever. The memory of that night however, I’d like to bury along with my fear.
Until next time