Why I wear sweatpants somedays

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It’s hard to appreciate how much energy it takes to just grieve the loss of a person and how difficult soldiering on is. Grieving is exhausting.  Part of the process for me is trying to be supportive for my three daughters as well. Some nights it feels like I am a single parent of newborn triplets, except it’s a cry that will not be quieted by a bottle or diaper change. Much like most of us, my three girls push through the day using their energy to appear “normal”. Showing “negative” emotions is uncomfortable for other people. So they walk around with their brave faces on and that takes energy. By dinnertime the disguise is becoming weary and the grief starts demanding to be paid attention to, a hungry baby that must be fed. The girls do the best they can to function pushing through to the end of the day. Then they attempt to sleep.  They are exhausted, but the brain is ready to focus on what has been ignored all day.  Anxieties pop up, tears. If they are able to sleep they are haunted by bad dreams and fitful sleep. They wake up throughout the night with physical aches and pains, the manifestation of the hurt inside. I hear footsteps, my oldest daughter’s, at midnight and later. She’s trying to be brave, trying not to “bother” me. Sometimes she gives in too. My heart clenches every time I hear my door open and a tiny weary voice asks ” Mommy, can I sleep with you?” .  My response depends entirely on my mood. I’m angry and exhausted too many nights. So tired from keeping up the brave face, so tired from feeding the triplets the night before. At times it’s easier to give in and a relief to have them near. Sometimes I am comforted by their warm bodies next to me, the sweet smell of adolescent skin.  Each of them settles so easily once they are near me. And I am comforted that they are not suffering for a bit, not tormented by sleep itself. 

Each of them becomes a boxing gymnast in their sleep though. Long legs pushing into me, the occasional slap from a lifeless, flopping hand, knobby  knees pressing into the small of my back. Teeth grinding. It’s not as though I am good at sleeping myself. 
Sometimes I send them away, so they can learn to cope, learn to quiet the beast that keeps them awake. I lie in my bed and hear them crying. Sobbing, drowning in the overwhelming pain of loss. Occasionally the grief lets go and sleep overtakes them. Sometimes the sobbing gets louder and wakes everyone in the house. Three crying triplets, no one even knowing what will make the crying stop and it’s so late at night. So tired and we are all out of bottles.  Those are the worst nights. 
 
I have never known a tired like this.  I recall how tired I was when I was pregnant with my third child. I had a four and a two year old at the time. With pregnancy came this tiredness that at times wouldn’t release me until I slept. It would come over me like a heavy wave.  But this is different, a demanding tiredness, but more like walking pneumonia. I feel like I’m dragging through, like a zombie pretending to be a human. I cannot make simple decisions, or remember simple things and I can’t maintain relationships. 
I have good days.  I have days when everyone has slept and I’ve had a good cry, or beat the hell out of a pillow or had the energy to exercise. But I can hardly string enough of them together to be a good friend.  It’s not that I don’t want to have healthy friendships and relationships, it’s just feels unfathomable and extraordinarily difficult. 
This is my way of explaining why I don’t call as often as I should and why I’ve forgotten that its your birthday. It’s not that I’ve forgotten you, my brain is just busy with the business of healing and processing grief. Ill be back.  And I look forward to catching up. 

 

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16 responses »

  1. Wow, this tore me up. Thank you for this…this expression of what it’s really like to grieve. Thank you for revealing with such honesty what it’s like to get through those late hours, when it is so painfully challenging to hold it together. I pray for peace and wholeness for you and your girls.

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  2. Oh, honey. I hear you. I have lived through deep grief twice in my life, but only had myself to take care of. i can’t imagine staying strong for the kids. Have you seen “Shadowlands?” this reminds me of the scene when Anthony Hopkins, as CS Lewis, confessed to his stepson that he was just as lost and lonely. There are times when you have to keep on the brave face (keeping them fed, getting to school) but there are also times when it’s OK to say, “I’m hurting too.”

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    • So true. And I do. I have a great support system, great friends and great family. Some of the work just has to be done on my own. It’s what bonds my girls and I so closely together.

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  3. I’m hugging you so tight from a distance right now! My heart aches for you and your sweet girls. If EVER you want to chat, if EVER you need someone to watch the girls so you can have time to yourself, sleep, have a girls night. Please let me know!

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  4. I never realized how exhausting grieving was until my son died. There have been days I never bathed, never dressed, ate almost nothing, never brushed my teeth or hair. Days I didn’t answer the phone, even when close friends showed up on Caller ID. I’d head to the grocery store and realize I was on I-240 going…where??? Either I couldn’t sleep or would sleep all day, and night.

    But I’ve had the “luxury” of grieving alone, without the beautiful, brokenhearted triplets needing reassurance and compassion. I’ve been responsible only for my own mental and physical health and healing. And even then it’s been pure torture at times.

    Now I have the opportunity to be a part of their grief journey, and yours. The girls are part of me, part of you, and part of their dad. Please allow me the privilege of sharing a tiny portion of the load this summer. I love you all deeply.

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  5. My thoughts are with you and your girls. As someone who lost their mom as a girl, I understand all too well making it through the day pretending with the face. Just remember that even though it may not feel like it somedays, and you may not realize it, and you are doing a fantastic job, and those girls love you deeply! 🙂 There will be ups and downs with the grief all your life and theirs, but as time goes by sleep will eventually come easier. Hang in there!

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  6. I don’t know the details but just reading your post made me stop all other thoughts. I found that by the end my face was wet. I will be thinking and praying for you all. If I can be of any solace I will do what I can for you. Heartfelt regards…Tim.

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