Many people have sent me books about grief since I lost Nash. A note is usually included with the book, explaining how it truly helped the person sending it through the grief process. This is where I’m different. First of all, please do not take offense to this. I have seriously gotten over fifty books on grieving from friends, family, and strangers. I know for a fact they help people because I have had many people, including parents who have lost a child, say how much they have helped them. Do not take this as a hint to not send them to others in need. Everyone grieves differently. I personally do not find them helpful. When my dad died…maybe I would have. Although I was incredibly close to my dad, I was not grieving him like my mother was. I was removed to some extent. My mom was in the thick of it. She lost her companion for life and her day-to-day routine changed forever. She felt his absence more than anyone, and I could tell when I saw her. I had the luxury of being at my own home and sometimes forgetting that he wasn’t still alive. It would hit me when I wanted to call him and I couldn’t. When I wanted to hear his voice and I couldn’t. When I would visit her, it would hit me like a ton of bricks as I walked into my childhood home. It was filled with memories of my dad. Everything in that house had him written all over it. My mom lived in that house…alone. It’s been over ten years since we lost him and I see her still grieving like it happened yesterday. A book might have helped me then; but her, I don’t think so.
My grieving process for Nash is very different then it was for my dad. I hate grief books. I actually laugh and tell Todd that I don’t need a book to tell me I’m in the “I hate the world stage, and that to get through it I need to think positive.” I remember the funeral home director reading us the cause of death and then saying, “You are now going to be in the anger stage.” I just looked at him and thought to myself no shit, but thanks for informing me. The grief of losing a child is life-changing, soul-crushing, and beyond any depths of depression I have ever known. To be fair, I haven’t read one book that I have received, so I can’t say they they wouldn’t help me. However, reading a book takes energy and that is something I do not have at this moment. Lately, I have found myself in what I call the isolation stage. It could be a stage talked about in these books, I don’t know. I could read one and I’m sure it would tell me how I’m feeling and how to cope with it. I, however, would rather write down what I’m feeling and how I’m trying to cope with it myself. That’s what helps me. Throwing it all out there into the great abyss and seeing how I feel afterwards.
The isolation stage is relatively new. It’s hard to explain. When Nash first passed, I never wanted to be left alone. My mind would race and I would think horrible thoughts and I needed someone there to keep my mind busy. Now I want to be alone. Being around people is hard. It takes a lot of effort to fake smiles. To keep up with a conversation. To pretend like you are okay. I remember entering this stage, the exact day even. It was during my niece Jillian’s birthday party. It was a good-sized party filled with people I loved dearly and all I wanted to do was not be there. I watched Jill open her presents and smile. She had that excitement that is almost palpable with every child at their birthday party. As she was opening gifts, I started to zone out thinking of Nash. Remembering the last party I was here for. It was Easter and he was there. He had a bad day that day. It was rare and I hated seeing him so upset. Family members were holding him, trying to let me get something to eat. He cried the whole time. I finally took him back to Jill’s room and laid him down in the bed next to me and snuggled up. I remember this day so clearly and the face he gave me. His cheeks were covered in tears and his face was beet red from crying so hard. As soon as I laid him down next to me, he stopped crying instantly and looked at me and smiled. I just stared at him. His cheeks were still wet and he had his little arm around me and within two minutes he was out cold. I loved being his mommy. Now, as I sit at Jill’s house with all of the same people smiling and opening presents, I think of that day and how Nash will never celebrate one birthday. I won’t help him open gifts. He won’t look at me with big smiling eyes of excitement when he opens the gift he wanted the most. My sister-in-law Caroline could tell I was quiet and was doing her best to talk to me. I was in my own world so much that I can’t even remember our conversation. When Todd and I were on our way home, I looked at him and said, “No more birthday parties, I can’t do them.” He said, “I understand.”
A couple of days later I headed out to the grocery store. As I was pushing my cart around, I was picturing how I used to do this with Nash. His car seat facing me. Him smiling as we raced down the aisles. Now I saw other people and their babies. Kids in baseball uniforms with their moms. I got to the register to check out. I think I had like three things. I couldn’t keep shopping, it was too hard. Of course the lady in front of me in line had her baby with her. I thought to myself…God Shelly next time look at who is ahead of you in line. What were you thinking?! I was in the speedy check out lane and had the slowest cashier in America. She was sweet and asking the lady how old her baby was. The lady said five months. My heart sank. Then she asked, “Your first?” and the lady said, “No, my third.” I was thinking three healthy children…I had one and he is gone. I wanted the cashier to shut up and check the lady out already. She then looked at the lady and said, “Babies are a gift from God, aren’t they? I have four grandchildren and I love them dearly.” The mother said, “Yes they are, I am blessed.” Now it was my turn and I could no longer hold back the tears. The sweet cashier said, “Oh honey are you okay?” I said, “I’m fine.” Then she asked the ten people in line behind me if anyone had a tissue. I cringed with embarrassment. I said, “Really, I’m fine. Thank you.” She said, “Oh no dear I’m going to get you a Kleenex.” She asked the people behind me again and I finally yelled, ” Just check me the f@&* out!!!” Yes, I dropped the f bomb. I could barely believe it. The lady looked at me shocked. The mother that had been in front of me in line looked back at me with her mouth wide open as she pushed her baby out of the grocery store. I scowled at her and thought to myself keep walking lady, your the reason I’m in this mess to begin with. The cashier said sweetly, “I was just trying to help…” I wanted to die. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I got in my car called Todd and said, “I’m not doing grocery stores anymore!” Todd laughed and said sarcastically, “Wow, you are just throwing the f bomb out at the grocery store randomly….nice.”
Now when people invite us out, I don’t want to go. One, because I get too upset and two, I’m saving them from my wrath. I truly feel that I’m doing some sort of public service by not going out in public. The problem with this is that family and friends have gotten used to us being around a lot. Now when we don’t come to things, we get calls and texts asking if they did something wrong. Are we mad at them? It’s frustrating. We have taken two steps back and it’s throwing people. What’s even worse is that I don’t have the energy required to explain this all to them. So I just text back, nope, not mad. Some days it feels like our depression is getting worse. In the beginning, we couldn’t wrap our minds around the fact that he was gone. Now it can knock me to my knees in a second. It’s starting to sink in. He is not coming back…life is moving on. People are having parties and grocery shopping. I, on the other hand, am at home trying to think of ways we can eat without ever grocery shopping again. The list of stores I can no longer show my face in again is growing . I think to myself, how many birthday parties can I miss before my nieces and nephews don’t remember me going to any. I’m changing and it’s hard. The one thing I will take from these books is that this is only a stage, and like all the rest, we have another one to look forward to. This one won’t last forever.