When I first lost Hailey, I felt light-headed all the time. I was afraid there was something medically wrong with me.
I remember being at an event a few weeks after saying good-bye to Hailey and something triggered me – my whole world started spinning. I grabbed onto my mom and cried “I don’t know if there’s something physically wrong with me or if this is just anxiety!”
This was before I knew what triggers truly were.
After a couple of months, the light-headedness became a little less. One day, while talking to my boss when we went out to lunch, I said “I’m ready to come back. I’ve started to feel less light-headed!” I left the restaurant and drove home.
When I got home I walked over to Hailey’s spot in our dining room where we keep her urn and a few of her things. I picked her urn up like I always do and it hit me. I felt so dizzy again.
It was at that moment that I realized – this is grief. This is a physical aspect of grief.
Besides feeling that anxious twist in my stomach I never knew that grief could hit you physically and stay with you.
Today, while writing this, sixteen months after Hailey’s death, I feel light-headed. It happens when I’m purposely thinking of Hailey being gone and her death. It happens when triggers appear.
I have no say or control over it. Grief sure does come in uncontrollable waves that hit people in different ways.
In the first month after Hailey’s death, time seemed to slow down.
Everything seemed to slow down, including the way I spoke. I had never stuttered in my life until then. It’s like my brain was in slow motion. The stuttering, forgetting words and losing track of the story I was telling or what I was trying to say.
Sometimes my words would trail off and I would just stop talking. My sister and Mom were gracious enough to let me leave it at that. It was almost like an out-of-body experience.
My brain had the words but I was watching myself not being able to form them out loud.
Grief can make you terrified of the things you felt were most solid in your life. My husband and I were terrified of the statistics of divorce after child loss. We just kept saying “as long as we keep communicating.”
Of course, we went through the ups and downs of not doing what we said we would. Communicating can be exhausting. Sometimes you just want to crawl in a hole and not express your feelings.
Those weeks were the worst.
After a year, I did see a little more clearly. I started to realize I needed to share with him and not just expect him to know my emotions.
Grief can make you terrified, period. I used to jump out of fear at any little thing. Someone turning the corner and entering the room I’m in, a person speaking unexpectedly or something falling after I touched it.
Grief can be debilitating in so many ways. Ways you’d never assume.
Sometimes I just sit here…
and zoning out.
No motivation or reason to stand up.
I look around at all our frames on the living room walls.
Pictures of Hailey. Momentous for Hailey.
I feel her little brother move and stretch around in my belly.
I put my hand on my stomach, afraid to miss a movement.
I can’t get myself to move.
I should go upstairs and organize the nursery.
I can go finish packing our hospital bags.
I look at Hailey Bear (our bear designed for Hailey and her weight) across the room and I itch to have her in my arms.
To feel her weight.
But I can’t move.
I know that if I do get her in my arms I really will never get up.
I’ve been sitting here for almost two hours.
It’s like I’m living in limbo waiting for our baby boy to arrive.
Or I’m living in the past, imagining what I’d be doing if Hailey were here right now.
So I sit. Until finally I somehow find the motivation to go do something, anything.
Grief isn’t just being “sad”. It’s achingly missing a piece of your heart.
My arms physically ache to hold Hailey.
I have felt the air leave my lungs and I have fallen on my knees on the ground wanting to scream but nothing comes out.
I have had a stabbing pain in my heart.
I have placed my hands over my chest like I needed to physically squeeze my heart to see if it was still whole or to stop it from hurting so much.
I write this to share with all of you but especially my fellow bereaved Mothers and Fathers. I wish I knew what to expect out of my body after a loss like this. I wish I didn’t have the fear of there being something wrong with my body while grieving my daughter.
You are not alone. Your body can physically ache and most likely will. Your pain is real and valid.
From one bereaved parent to another, I’m sending you all my love and strength.