Monday, January 4, 2010

Grief and Personality Changes

Everyone knows I started this blog as a way to tell Mason's story and my journey through grief. Many of my readers are parents who have experianced a similiar loss. That being said, I have to be in a specific mood to write about those experiances and sometimes it can be days in between that mood. On those days I will write about my family, or other day to day issues. However, when the mood strikes me, or I have a thought to share with others experiancing the loss of a child, then I post it on here. Sometimes it is extremely personal, but I have so many positive responses that I continue.

Last night I was on a support site for parents of infant loss. I often go on there to help other women whose loss has just occured. Often times they just want an ear to listen as they tell their story. That is one of the best things that you can do for a grieving parent. Let them talk about their child or experiance, mention their child by name. Many books on grief talk about the sense of abandonment that parents feel when family members and friends seem to avoid them. In fact, this is a time that will make or break relationships. The people that are there for the grieving parents will establish a permanent bond that will be hard to break. The ones that the parents thought would have been/should have been but are not will me damamged, maybe forever as the parent feels a sense of abandonment or betrayal. By being there, I mean the people who call or come over on their own. The people who sit and let you play music that reminds you of your child, or tell what is happening, or who look at sonogram pictures, or visit the child's headstone and tell you how nice it is. These people realize that you are not going to call them, you are too shell shocked to even think of that, but come over anyways just to let you know that they care. I know in my experiance, many friends that were just casual friendships, or in the early stages of friendship have been cemented as lifelong friends because of this.

Now one mother in paticular was talking about the personality changes her and her husband have experianced. I did some research and have found out that often times these changes are permanent. Some times they are for the better, sometimes not. I know I have had profound changes in personality. The most noticeable is a sort of I don't care attitude. I used to try and try with people and would often times get walked all over because of it. If someone was rude I would just let it go and let it go even though it was eating me up inside. I would put up with so much and never do anything about it except maybe complain to Jake. Now I am much more confrontational. If someone is being rude, I will call them on it. If someone has done something to me or mine, I will deal with it. I guess you could say fight fire with fire. The bad side of this is that I seem to have an on/off switch for people. I guess what I mean by that is that is someone has pushed me far enough I can seem to shut off all emotion or feelings for that person like someone switches off a light. Once it is off, it is very hard for me to trust that person and turn it back on. This is not normal I know, I just don't know how to fix it. In some ways it is nice because if I have shut off all feelings, then I don't get hurt. However, there are times and situations where it becomes necessary to deal with someone and for other's sake I need to find a way to turn it on and at least be civil. I think that when I used to try and try I was giving away little pieces of me only to have them trampled to dust. When we lost Mason, I lost such a huge piece of me that I feel like if I keep giving pieces away, there will be nothing left of what made me, well me. I have noticed similiar changes in Jake as well. I don't know how to fix it, and I am afraid it might be permanent. Truthfully I am not sure if I want to go back to the way I was.

I close with this qoute I have often thought of. For those of you going through the same thing, I hope this post helps you feel like you are not the only one who os going through these changes.

Parental grief is boundless. It touches every aspect of [a] parent's being...When a baby dies, parents grieve for the rest of their lives. Their grief becomes part of them...As time passes, parents come to appreciate that grief is [their] link to the child, [their] grief keeps [them] connected to the child. - ARNOLD AND GEMMA, IN CORR ET AL. 1996, 50-51


Anonymous said...

Oh Stephanie, I am so glad you have the comments turned back on. I know my husband and I are going through the exact same thing and it has been five years since we have lost Hannah. I am not sure it is a bad thing as it has weeded out problem relationships in our lives. Keep your chin up!

Anonymous said...

I think you are too hard on yourself. I have never known you or Jake to be anything but kind and fair so if you have been pushed this far than it is probably for the best.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and have been lurking for along time. You say what all of us feel, but with grace and passion. I know I too have felt this change after we lost Nicholas. You are not alone and thank you for reminding us that we are not either.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you are still going through. I think you are doing fine with your grief and your quote is right, it will be a lifelong process. Besides, I always thought you needed to stand up for yourself more and I, for one am glad to see you doing it.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important to give people a second chance. Some people don't know how to help a grieving parent, if you haven't gone through it personally it's hard to know what to do. Open your heart and ask yourself "What would Jesus do?". He wouldn't close doors, he'd open them and allow all to enter.

Anonymous said...

You are right. Us grieving parents hold onto our grief as a way to hold onto our children that have passed. I agree in forgiveness and second chances, but I also agree that we have enough weight on our hearts without allowing people to compound it. The Bible says "1. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).

You need to do what is best for the healing of your family.