"I thought I was dying too"
Christmas Eve, 2012. Standing in a pew at the Christmas Midnight service at church my right hand became numb and then intense pain traveled up into my shoulder. It had been 14 days since my 4 year old son died. Like a statue I stood as still as I could, taking in this new form of pain, was this it, was I now dying too?
In addition to the powerful emotional effects, there are also a number of serious physical symptoms of grief. Chest pain, abdominal pain, stress rashes, ulcers, nerve pain from uncontrollable crying or pain from unreleased emotions. The list goes on.
Many people mistakenly believe that grief is a single emotion, but normal grief is actually a powerful, multifaceted, and often uncontrollable response that human beings experience following a personally painful or traumatic event, such as a death.
To those grieving.
To the grieving start a new mission for your life, start by asking for what you need! Network with a grief group, therapist and your doctor. Be honest about your physical pain, its not your imagination. Broken Heart Syndrome and other physical manifestations from grief are real medical problems that need to be addressed. Speak about it, even of your voice cracks and you ugly cry.
To those "not yet affected"-your turn will come.
To the few that have made it thus far without deep wounds, I encourage you to have the courage to ask questions, you can find the most amazing stories of perseverance by listening to those grieving. I promise you, a day will come that anguish will knock, understanding how others have survived and found joy again is paramount when it's your turn. This life is hard. It is the complexity and wholeness of the human experience.
It pushes us to grow and greater build our empathy, and create change to do better.