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Monday, June 18, 2018

After Suicide: The Paralysis of Grief

I was treading water in the pool today. It seems appropriate. Right now I feel like my life is treading water.

It's hard to do anything, although the wash has to be done, the bathrooms cleaned, the beds changed, groceries to be purchases, and meals to be cooked. Two of our children and their families were here for Father's Day and I was prepping the meals the day before, setting tables, etc.

Those things act a little like an anesthetic. You can't totally quit and they dull the pain. And you have to smile watching a three year old getting a swim lesson from his daddy.

It's hard to pray -- sometimes even remembering a prayer is a challenge. Why am I getting a brain freeze in the middle of the Our Father? Have I really forgotten the seven sorrows of Mary (my alternative to counting sheep when I can't sleep).

It's hard even to think. I continually begin a thought only to have it flit off into the ether while I try to catch it by the tail. What was I saying?

A friend who was visiting today (She's experienced multiple griefs herself.) told me that's normal and it's likely to last for awhile.

So I take mahjong breaks on the computer matching tiles, looking for connections...distracting myself from thinking and feeling. Is that the mind and body in self-defense mode?

After my dad died in 1985, every night after I put the children to bed I watched TV. It didn't matter what -- I just sat and spaced out on mindless shows until bedtime. Sometimes I folded wash, but most of the time I just sat there and looked at the screen. I couldn't have told you the next day what I was watching. I felt paralyzed by grief.

That paralysis lasted for a long time. And this grief is so much heavier to carry. The death of a parent after a long life is in the natural order of things. It's hard, but not really unexpected. The death of a child, especially by suicide, is out of the order of things -- so far out of the order of things that it feels like a planet knocked out of its orbit. How can it not impact the entire universe?

I'm offering everything these days for my dear grandson and for the poor souls in Purgatory -- even my paralysis. Is that worth anything to God? I don't know, but I give it to him anyway. And then I try to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Am I moving forward or just walking in place -- like treading water --moving but going nowhere?

Well -- even treading water and walking in place exercise muscles. So if I'm not going anywhere, at least I'm staying afloat and using muscles that will keep me from completely atrophying.

Meanwhile, one night when I couldn't sleep I came downstairs and went out on the front porch. The sky was filled with stars -- so many little sparks of light piercing the dark. They remind me to hope in God's goodness Who created such beauty for my delight.

I believe, Lord, help Thou my disbelief. I hope, Lord, increase my hope.


Susan Matthiesen said...

I read your post, then an hour later was reading about the life of Edith Stein and found the following. Although what led her to the state of complete inertia is different than your situation, the result is the same. She said:

"It came in the wake of an experience which had overtaxed my strength, drained my spiritual resources, and robbed me of the ability to act. Compared to that inertia, arising from a lack of vital energy, 'resting in God' is something entirely new and distinct. One is a kind of 'stillness of death,' whereas the other is marked by a sense of tremendous activity...which to the degree I give myself to it, fills me with life....This invigorating flow of energy appears to be the result of activity other than my own."

So, God is there. We wish He would hurry up and do something, but perhaps His timing depends on us. I think that's what Edith Stein is saying anyway.

I pray for you, your family and Brendan everyday.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks so much, Susan. You're friendship is a tremendous gift. It is the prayers and support of friends that is helping lift us up during this painful time.

Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

I believe our sorrows do count for something. You're in my prayers.

Catechist Kev said...

My heart aches for all of your family, Mary Ann. :^(

Will offer you up at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this evening at 6ET at All Saints parish in Cannelburg, In.

God love you,