Tuesday

My Melt Down - A Mother's Reflection of Anger

A Mother's reflections of wild emotions experienced after her child's death...

What now? My beloved child is dead, yet the world still goes on. No one seems to understand. Everyone wants me to be O.K. "Be happy again!" They want me back to normal, but I don't believe it is entirely out of concern for my welfare. No one knows how to deal with a grieving parent. Everyone is on edge and believes that if they mention my son's name, it will upset me even more. Or, worse it will upset them. Other parents come with their own set of paranoia and fears; they think, "What if something happens to my child?" Friends and family want the "old me" back, some say they can't be at ease around me any longer. Some have gone out of their way to avoid me, to the point of turning their shopping cart the opposite direction in the grocery store aisle... just so they wouldn't to have to speak to me! Still, the few friends who do call say, "We don't like to see you like this. You have to get over it. Go on. You're not fun anymore!" The worst comment I have received was from an older woman at church who said, "I'm so sorry Dear. I know how you feel, my beloved Barney died last year!" (Barney is a DOG! Her Yorkshire Terrier! A damn dog!!!) Don't misunderstand, I love animals. I am a pet lover/ owner and PETA member! Although, I don't understand how could someone compare the loss of a dog to a child? I love my dog too, but I didn't give birth to her. A dog is a wonderful companion. My child however, is part of me, forever connected to my soul. As a Mother; I nourished his body with my own for nine months, he grew under my HEART! It is not the same!

The list of insensitive comments goes on and on! It is better just to turn the phone off. I stopped returning phone calls, emails, or even answering the door! PJ day turned into PJ (pajamas) weekend and I found myself in an internal battle whether to shower or go back to bed. I silently screamed, "I just want to be left alone!" Yet, the next moment I yearn for someone to be here to listen and understand. Wishing for someone who would not criticize or judge, just allow me to grieve naturally! (Whatever, that happens to be at the moment!) I have days where all I do is think of my departed child, I search through the photos and drag out more boxes of precious memories. Then I have other days where, "I don't want to see anyone or anything that reminds me! Not necessary of him, just that he's gone!" My emotions fluctuate like the changing winds. One moment I am calm and serene, in a state of denial. The next moment, "I am so mad, No matter what, I feel so desperately alone! I want to die, too. I can't breathe! I could KILL somebody!"

Unless, you are a grieving parent you cannot possibly understand the range of sensations swirling so intensely inside. So wild are these contrasting emotions that it feels as if I was a violent volcano just waiting to erupt! Who do you complain to? Who do you scream to, "It not fair. It's too soon. I want my baby, back!" Society dictates that we remain calm, even reserved. Yet, when a child dies, there should be some amendment, some forum or some way to SCREAM out... "I'm as MAD as HELL and I won't stand for this! It's not FAIR!" But, alas... Grieving parents usually end up suppressing their feelings or lashing out indiscriminately.

Which brings me to my personal outburst. I decided to share this story, because my grief counselor, Joe asked me if he could share my story with other grieving parents he works with. He felt it was a perfect demonstration of spontaneous rage which while is not a good thing; it is according to Dr. Joe, "Perfectly normal!"

Here's my disclaimer: To hear Dr. Joe tell it, you would have thought I hogtied and pulverized a poor defenseless geriatric. (LOL). Here's Dr. Joe's version according to his clinical notes he shared with me.

Received call from client (Dawn), who was hysterically crying and sobbing, while driving. Client had a fight at a gas station. She scared a poor old woman half to death, who was "not getting done fast enough." I could hear the frustration and terror in her voice! Provided emotional support by having Dawn pull over and practice breathing techniques to calm herself. Advised Dawn to go straight home and contact me later if necessary. - Grief Specialist

I certainly don't like the way my grief counselor retells my story. That doesn't show me in the best light, but it is his impression. I still tell him, "It was an argument, not a fight! To explain further, this 'fight' took place only a few weeks after my son, Jimmy died of an Epileptic Seizure while away at college. I was still vacillating between denial and rage. Most days I barely existed. It was in the "Stop... the World; I want to get off stage!" I was barely functioning... I slept on and off all day long, but lay awake throughout the entire night with debilitating heart-stopping grief!

Although, I selfishly wanted to join my son in death, I had other responsibilities. Some I could ignore like taking a leave of absence from work; suspended my college classes (taking a semester off) and allowed my perfectly clean home to be a lot less clean and perfect. Although, as a Mother of four, I could not suspend Motherhood. While I kept tabs on my two grown sons, trying to reach out and offer comfort, I could not ignore the needs of my daughter. Katelyn (age 13 years old) needed her Mommy more than ever. After all, she too was suffering from the death of her big brother. My concern for my daughter, turned into obsession. At thirteen, she really is a very capable young lady. Yet, through my distorted haze of grief I became overly concern about her welfare. I was so full of anxiety that my shoulder muscles tensed, my heart race and I began perspiring profusely. Yuck, I was a dirty sweaty mess. I usually pride myself in my appearance, this in itself was upsetting to me, as a woman I tend to be a bit vain.

Back to the gas station, argument... Not Fight! It was one of those days when I didn't shower, eat or function. I honestly don't remember what I did that day until I looked at the clock. "Damn it!" I was late picking Katie up from school. She had forgotten her cell phone at home and the school's phone line rang busy. I had no way to reach her and tell her I was running late. Dread rang throughout my body. All sort of scenarios ran through my mind. What if she starts walking? What if she goes home with Zoey? Is she stressing about this? Under normal circumstances, Katie is more than competent, but in my bizarre confusion... I imagined her crying and upset... feeling lost and abandoned!

On the way to the school I realized I didn't even have enough gas fumes to make it down the road. I had to stop at the first gas station. Once, there I found lines 3 and 4 cars deep for every pump. "Oh, No... Katie! She needs me! I can't reach her!" I tried calling the school again, but I think they purposely take the phones off during dismissal. Anyway, I was working myself up to a full blown panic attack. My heart continue to race, I could barely breath, my hands were sweaty and most. I kept thinking, "My child needs me and I'm not there!"

I literally prayed for a pump to be available. Finally the old woman directly in front of my car finished pumping her gas, put the pump handle back and screwed her gas cap back into place. "Thank God!" I said to myself and I readied myself to pull up to the pump. I couldn't believe what happened next. With a gas station over run with motorist, she left her car to walk across the median to chat with another old woman. They casually laughed and talked while the second woman began to pump her gas.

This is what happened next:
1) I honked.
2) I was ignored.
3) I honked again.
4) The two ladies looked and laughed at me.
5) I honked again.
6) I was ignored, AGAIN!
7) I rolled down my window and said, "Please... I am in a hurry."
8) The 1st old lady reluctantly returned to her car.
9) I waited.
10) The old lady looked in her rear view mirror at me and laughed some more.
11) I honked.
12) She laughed, AGAIN.
13) I got out of the car. I knocked on her window and begged, "Please, I am very late getting my
daughter from school!"
14) I returned to my car to ready myself to pull up to the pump again.
15) She started putting on make-up.
16) I gasped in frustration and disbelief!
17) Another, pump opened up and I maneuvered over to it.
18) I ran into the gas station to 'prepay' for my gas.
19) The old woman was still sitting in her car, laughing at me... Not moving.
20) I took my car keys and threw them past her windshield. At least that's what I told the police.
21) Actually, they hit the top of her car and bounced off.
22) I saw her writing down my tag number.
23) I finished pumping my gas and left to get my daughter.
24) I began crying hysterically.
25) I couldn't believe how cruel the world was.

By the time I arrived at my daughter's school, I was a mess. Twenty-five minutes had passed and she was busy talking and laughing with friends. She didn't even seem to notice how late I was. Katie was fine. I however was inconsolable and frantic. I called Dr. Joe, and he tried to calm and console me. His priority was to get me off the road. I pulled into a park and Joe just let me 'Cry it out.' He made me promise never to drive when I felt this much anxiety, he said have a "Stay at home day!"

In the end, I created this crazed situation because of my irrational paranoia due to overwhelming grief. It just hit me all of a sudden. I made a bad situation worse. Within an hour of leaving the gas station, I received a phone call from the local police department. They were very alarmed because the old woman called and claimed that I beat on her window and tried to get into her car to harm her! I explained that, I was very emotional because of my son's death, but I assured them I made no attempt to enter her car or harm her in anyway. I even suggested they retrieve the gas station video, which would clearly show I never touch her door handle. I was informed that they had already been to my apartment, (while I was crying hysterically at the park). They told me that my apartment manager confirmed the death of my son and that they would not be pursuing this further. Whew!

In retrospect, even though anyone would have been upset by the encounter with this old woman, I allowed the situation to push me over the edge. Unfortunately, due to my grief and desperate state of mind, I was unreasonably concerned for my daughter's welfare and I took the rude old woman's actions, personally!

Can be reached at: dawnmariesaul@yahoo.com

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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