Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Yesterday I purposely put myself into a social situation. This is the first time I have done this since Colby passed. It is a business event, but with people I know reasonably well, and who should have known about Colby. Many, I find, do not. Instead, they smile and ask where I've been. This is still too hard. Lights bounce around in my head, my ears begin to ring and I feel disoriented. I can't breathe. I think I am going to be sick, pass out. My brain, then, is still on overload and attending this event is one thing too many, the straw that broke the camel's back. I leave, grateful to go home.

One stage of grief that experts often overlook is the physical. Other parents I've spoken with who have lost children tell me this is a real problem. Fainting, panic attacks, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, sleeplessness, sweating, chills, memory loss, attention problems, cognitive issues. There are more, but you get the idea. Friends and other family members often expect these symptoms to go away after the loved one is buried, but I am told by those who know that the physical effects of grief can last for years.

Colby had panic attacks from the time he was small. Mine are more recent, just since his passing. If you have never experienced an attack like this you can be sympathetic, you can help, you can commiserate, support, listen, care. But you cannot truly understand. That is true of anything. Experiencing something brings the event into an entirely new perspective. Not that I want anyone else to have panic attacks. I just point out that unless you've experienced something you do not have a true understanding of it.

I am glad I went to the event. I saw some people I care about and hadn't seen in a while. But I look at the experience as a test. And I realize I am not ready yet. And that's okay. I will be at some point and it is good to know I have work to do. I am proud of myself for trying. I'll give myself a few more weeks, a few months, and try again, and then again. Hopefully, over time, I will see my symptoms lessen, subside. I know Colby would want that, not just for me, but for all the grieving parents, and for those who struggle with anything that keeps them from being all they can be. He knew. He understood. Maybe it's another reason he was wise beyond his years.

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