What to expect from the grief train

The grief train sux. No matter who you are, how big the loss is. It sux and it’s hard. Below are some of the things you or someone close to you might experience / be experiencing. The stages below are only suggested and ones that only my experience can offer. No 2 people will ride the same grief train but I can only imagine that these stages will come and go in time, linger when necessary and fade in an appropriate way and only at a time when that person is ready for them to fade.

Shock – The slap in the face stage.

This is the stage of grief I was in when the consultant at the hospital told us that Paxton had a Grade 4 brain bleed and was unlikely to live any sort of positive form of life (he basically didn’t have a working brain). I instantly shut down to all heart feelings and only allowed my brain to do any work. In my head, I acknowledged that my son was brain dead and there was nothing anybody could do, but I don’t think I acknowledged in my heart that I even had a son. I felt the physical effects of birth, but my heart was shielded from the pain that I knew would cause immense suffering.

Sadness – The real heart wrenching, gut clenching, tears flow like waterfalls stage

This is the stage when my head couldn’t protect me from my heart’s truth. It was the days between leaving the hospital empty handed to possibly 10 days later. For me, this stage was filled with heart directed pain and tears that was unimaginable to anyone who has not suffered a loss. Awful, awful, lonely stage.

Blame (yourself/others) – The self pity stage… Its. All. My. Fault

The blame stage was a little mixed with the sadness stage. Whenever I found myself bursting into tears as songs were played, or I was feeling alone in my heart, I started blaming myself for what happened. I blamed my body for not being able to carry my baby longer and I blamed my body for not helping my baby when it needed to come out. I blamed my thoughts and feelings towards other people and my surroundings when I was pregnant. I blamed myself as a whole. Another awful stage.

Anger (yourself/other) – It’s everyone’s fault

I found that this stage was closely connected with blame. Once I had finished blaming myself, I moved to those closest to me. I blamed medical staff for not helping more after my son was born (in my head, not to them), I blamed the Obstetric consultant for not helping get my son out fast enough (again, in my head), I blamed the ‘friends’ that never turned up (again, in my head). I blamed my husband and I also continued to blame myself. It’s another not so pretty stage, but one that is definitely necessary for any sort of mental and emotional healing to occur.

Acceptance – The peace and calm stage

It’s taken 3 weeks, my husband taking time out and a lot of reading on mental and emotional frames of mind, to finally start to trickle in to this stage. It’s a peaceful and calm stage to be in. I’ve planted the trees that people gave us, talked to them as if I’m talking to my son, thrown the dying flowers away, put Paxton’s ashes in a place I can see him and talk to him as I scurry after a toddler or any other normal life happenings and I finally feel as if I can sit on the couch, write this blog and feel positive and warm thoughts of acceptance and forgiveness towards myself and those around me.

Repeat any of the above as necessary and as often as possible.

I still find myself dipping my toes back into the sadness and self blame stages but am finding that I am no longer sensing shock or anger or blaming others. My heart and head continue to feel strong aches of pain, but I am finding more peace in my thoughts as my heart and head align a little more strongly each day.

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