Loneliness and Despair

Most of us have felt it before, at some point in our lives. A moment of sadness when we hear bad news, a heartbreak when a relationship ends, the loss of a job, a loved one passed away, our family pet dies, illness of some kind and no one to care for you. There are many moments in our lives when it is good to have another human being around to console you, hold your hand, reassure you that it will be ok. It’s good to have support during difficult times. But people are busy, life is hectic.

When Emberly passed away, initially we had support. People dropped off dinners, sent flowers, cards, money, we received frequent texts from friends just checking in. But then weeks pass, months pass, years pass and there are no more flowers, no more cards, no more dinners, no more texts. You are left with your grief and sadness, the moments when tears fall and there is no one to hold you. You are left with your overwhelming sadness, your inability to function, your lack of energy or motivation to live frankly. You feel isolated from the rest of the world, and feel as if no one understands.

The mind knows that in reality you are not the only person in the world who has suffered a loss of some kind, but when you are living it, it sure feels like it.

I remember when my nephew Kenneth passed away. My sister in shock, walking up the sidewalk to the funeral home my sister looked at me with tears in her eyes as I assisted her walking and said ” I can do this right? Millions of parents all over the world have done this.” Her mind knew she has heard of many parents who have lost children. But her heart had no connection to those people.

For months I went to her house almost every day to help her. Whether it was cleaning, making phone calls, sending thank you cards, returning dishes to people who had sent food. People have to work, have responsibilities and commitments. Eventually I couldn’t continue to go see her every day. The visits became less and she, her husband and children are left to deal with their new reality alone.

Some handle the grief better than others. There could be a variety of reasons for that. I’m not sure I understand it, but it’s just the way it is.

Three days after Emberly passed my bereavement period with my employer was up. Time to return to work. Yes, three days. Three days to pick up the pieces of my broken heart. Three days to shed those tears, three days to console my grief stricken daughter. Three days!

I wept a lot, while driving my car to each patient, I wept while treating patients, I wept when typing out case notes that night. Life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

I did what I had to do. But that is all I did. I learned to cope and function at a certain level, bare minimum. Eventually I began to socialize again, but it was surreal. Your there but not present. In the back of your mind there is always a gnawing thought, my granddaughter is dead. You may be sipping a glass of wine with friends, they may be dancing, joking, laughing. You fake your way through. But you know you are only there because everyone thinks you should be there. You don’t want to be there. What you want is for your granddaughter to be alive.

Now, add chronic illnesses as a factor. Clinical depression, anxiety and PTSD. How well do you think someone who is already depressed and anxious about life would cope with such grief?

Depression already causes lack of motivation, overwhelming sadness and lack of self worth. The anxiety of dealing with people in public holding their newborns, or commenting on your baby bump that is still there, a daily reminder of what you have lost. And people can’t resist, they have to ask, “when are you due?” I received countless calls from Amanda, weeping as she tried to get back out into the world. Whether it was a comment about her bump, or watching a mother pushing a baby stroller she just couldn’t handle it.

Her social anxiety grew, she had difficulty going to work, to the grocery store, family outings or even meeting someone for dinner. The anticipation of what she could encounter, that may cause another breakdown. But everyone expects you to get back out there. Because life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

If you can, imagine the most heartwrenching experience of your life, hold that emotion and recall the ache in your heart forever broken. Now add to that your most anxious feeling, when your heart raced and your palms were sweaty, fear gripped you. Add to that the most horrific/tragic experience you have had maybe you witnessed an awful car accident, a fire or wicked storm that did serious damage. Hold all the emotions, fear, anxiety and flashbacks. Then imagine you faced those feelings and memories every single day, that no matter how hard you try, you can’t shake it, you just can’t. Then imagine being alone with those feelings and thoughts. Alone every single day.

She felt isolated and alone as did I. Who else is going to go hold her when she cries? Who else is going to reassure her, it will get better? Who is going to identify with this lonliness and despair? Who else can connect with her on a level no one else can? Who else is going to care enough to drop everything and come to the rescue when she wants to die and end this pain once and for all? Mom.

And I go it alone. I hold her hand alone, I wipe her tears alone, I take her to the hospital alone. I talk my daughter off the bridge alone. Then when it’s over, I drive home alone, I lay down exhausted and cry alone. Life goes on, the world keeps spinning.

It’s horrible to feel isolated and alone. We need human connection and touch. We need reassurance from others. There is no substitute for the human touch, love and compassion.

In writing this, my hope is that today each person that reads this, will reach out to someone in need. Do something for someone else. Bring your love to them, meet them where they are at. Take them a cup of coffee or flowers and let them know they were in your thoughts today and hug them. Let them know, they are not alone.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m not a professional, just a mom. Please like, comment and share my blog.

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