Today I had my first appointment with the Grief Counselor who is available as part of the hospice program that Jason was in. I was not looking forward to it…actively dreading it…almost cancelled it numerous times. Grief counseling is not something I want to have to take advantage of. I don’t want to need it.
Here’s the thing though. I spend a lot of time feeling nothing how I anticipated I would feel…nothing how I think I should feel…nothing how I think other people think I should feel. I thought I would be spending all my time crying…not wanting to get out of bed…not able to function. People tell me I’m so strong because I’m back at work…taking care of my kids and dogs…functioning pretty well. I cry sometimes, but I can also go days without crying. They tell me “I don’t think I could do that”…which by the way makes me feel like shit because I feel like I am not feeling “bad enough”.
My takeaway from the Grief Counselor–I am only functioning well because I am in shock. And my shock has been compounded by the fact that we did at-home hospice…there were many aspects of his end-of-life care and death that were shocking and horrifying and have been impossible to put to the back of my mind. When I close my eyes at night those days are on repeat in my head…over and over and over.
Once she pointed it out to me and explained it to me it was a huge “ah ha moment”. After she left, I found this article published by the Hospice Foundation of America titled “The Shock of Loss“. Several parts of it really hit home for me:
People in shock often appear to be behaving normally without a lot of emotion because the news hasn’t fully sunk in yet.
Detached from the reality of the loss, you may be able to function pretty well at first. This can be confusing to the people around you, when they expect full-blown grief and suffering that you don’t yet feel.
Staying awake late at night obsessing or falling asleep only to wake suddenly in the middle of the night are both normal reactions.
Yes. That is it exactly.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret our decision to do at-home hospice one iota. It was the least that I could do for Jason…to make sure his last days were comfortable and that he was surrounded by the people who loved him with his dogs looking over him.
I just wish I could stop re-living it in my head.