Recently, I felt like I was gaining traction. Finally, after 3.4 years, I felt like I was starting to reenter life. And, then, COVID19 forced me into the familiar holding pattern of early grief. I feel the paralysis of fear taking over again; and, this feeling of being frozen by doubt and trepidation is all too familiar. The emerging anxiety and unease are definitely affecting my psyche. I feel myself sliding into the familiar landscape of early grief and it scares me.
I wake up each morning, and like in the days following Mike’s death, I just lay there because I have no desire to rise from my bed. My familiar routine is lost and this has me in a tailspin. Once again, my life has been shaken up and I am not responding favorably to the changes COVID19 is forcing on me. Right now, I feel like my life is on hold. Only this time, I am forced into a holding pattern because of a deadly virus, not Mike’s sudden death.
I would love to catch a break from grief, but I guess now is not that time. Because of COVID19, I am forced to grieve the loss of normalcy like everyone else in the world. Only to me, this feels like exactly where I have come from. Surrounded by uncertainty, once again, I am feeling completely disorientated and out of sorts.
These last three years, I have worked hard to claw my way back toward life and now I feel myself sliding back into the loamy composition that is grief. It is disappointing. For me, COVID19 has simulated the unsettling and chaotic feelings of early grief; and, almost effortlessly, I am being buried by these familiar emotions. I am falling easy prey to anxiety and fear because I am fatigued from battling grief. Because of the grief and trauma caused by Mike’s death, I do not have much fight left in me to battle against the familiar feelings the Coronavirus is conjuring up. I am just too emotionally exhausted to keep my defences up.
When Mike first died, I was shocked into a numbness that I had previously never known. I was frozen into an eery state of stillness. As the truth of his deadness began to register, I could barely speak words. I was so completely overwhelmed by his death that I just stared off into the beyond. I remember it felt like an effort to blink.
At first, I could not adequately voice my sense of devastation. Inside I felt utterly panicked; and, at the same time, I felt absolutely nothing. Without exaggeration, I felt dead. I was slowly dying from the inside out. The vast emptiness that filled me made me want to craw out of my own skin. I wanted to scream, but I could not make any sound. And, the sounds I did make, I did not recognize. My cries swung from soft murmurs to wild, primal wails. Living without him gutted me.
I yearned for his touch to steady me. (And, I still do.) Desperately, I longed for his physical presence to soothe the the unrest that grew inside my Soul. But, alas, I had to soothe myself. Mike died – he could no longer help me. And, now, the Coronavirus has me reliving these awful feelings of abandonment and isolation that accompanied Mike’s death.
When Mike died, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. Without him, I was temporarily unable to understand the world around me. I felt like I existed in an alternate reality. People would speak to me and I could not comprehend what they were saying to me no matter how hard I concentrated on their words. My mind could not make sense of anything. I was lost in all ways. And, again, some of these same terrible and unsettling feelings are upon me. The world is once again a confusing place for me.
Currently, I feel like I have little control in my life. The shaky way I feel forces me to acknowledge that I have not adequately “awaken” from the trauma of Mike’s death. Clearly, my foundation is still wobbly at best. And, part of me quietly wonders if I will ever be on solid ground again. *Sigh.
Those of us who live with deep grief walk precariously close to the edge of sadness without even flinching most days. We are used to the landscape of grief. Sadness is part of the territory. Sometimes, we misstep; and, then, we are promptly returned to the ledge of despair. Unintentionally, Covid19 has lead me back to this well worn place. I do not want to be standing here so close to the absence of hope. I hate teetering near the wildness of my grief, but I think that it is unavoidable given the situation. The present uncertainty has guided me back to sadness and fear because this is what is familiar to me. Thankfully, experience has taught me that these feelings are not permanent. Like all things, sadness evolves and fear changes. The same can be said of grief and of viruses. Nothing is static. Everything changes with time.
Staying anchored in the moment is not my strong suit, especially since Mike died. I can not focus like I did before. I rarely experience being wholly present in any moment. My mind constantly drifts away from reality. I think my thoughts wander because I am so underwhelmed by the life I am living. So, in an effort to satisfy my dissatisfaction, I create an alternate reality that is better than the one that exists. I know that I am often lost in my reveries. And, I know this distracts me from living, but I don’t know how to stop myself from disappearing into my head where I frantically manufacture thoughts of Mike. I have tried to stop imagining Mike in these fabricated scenarios and places in my mind, but I just can not seem to break this habit. *Heavy Sigh.
I am not particularly proud that I have daydreamed my way through the last 3.4 years. I notice myself searching for traces of Mike everywhere… I hear his footsteps beside me as I walk down the hall. I stare off into the beyond as I stir his smile into my coffee. I remember him so hard that I feel his body indenting the cushion in the couch next to me. I see his face among the clouds. I hear his laugh ringing in my ears. And, I sense his shadow in the darkness of my bedroom as I drift off to sleep, From morning till nighttime, I endlessly and desperately reconstruct images of him. I have half-heartedly attempted to bring Mike back to life as I go about my own life. When I breathe, my thoughts attempt to resuscitate him. It feels like I am doing mental acrobatics all day long as I shift between reality and fantasy. It is madness. And, it is especially intense right now because I feel isolated and abandoned once again.
When he died I remember I would stand perfectly still. I held my breath and I stood frozen. I felt like I was literally suspended in time. And, for a long time, I actually resembled a statue more than a woman. I barely blinked. My breath was shallow and my eyes were dead. I limped from moment to moment waiting for Mike to come back and rescue me from the mess that is his death.
And, now, again, I feel myself standing still. I feel frozen in place. Once again, I feel disconnected from my humanness. I feel robotic. Nothing I do feels deliberate. Everything I do is completed by routine and done in rote. I am simply limping from one day to the next. COVID19 has put my life into a holding pattern and for those of us who are familiar with grief this is a pattern that is too familiar.
I will take tonight and steady myself. Tomorrow I will try again. My children need a mother who does more than limp from moment to moment. I need to reengage in my life because – I can. Mike’s life is over. But, mine isn’t. So, despite all the suffering being a human being entails, I will be damned if I waste the rest of my life lost in the complexities of grief. I will not be emotionally buried by the uncertainty COVID19 creates. Watch out, this girl just found her fight again. It’s on.