Diary of a Grieving Mom: Social shyness
A moment of truth - after the loss of a child, social gatherings make me cringe. I can't even think of a suitable analogy to describe the mix of emotions. It is a sickening anxiety.
I speak for myself in my grief, but have also talked to others and read stories of others who share my dread of social gatherings following the death of our children. It all sounds good; a day or night out with friends or family. A pleasant distraction or a chance to have some fun.
But for the grieving mom, they are exhausting.
First off, we have to put on our mask. We have to pretend like we are ok, like we are living even though our child is not. But in reality, we are dead inside. Things are not ok and we hate life. For me, life stopped when my son's heart stopped beating. Everyone else's lives kept moving forward, and all we want is for time to stop so we can catch our breath. Pretending is hard work, especially for long periods of time. Who wants a miserable party pooper at their gathering to bring everyone else down anyways.
So, I put on my mask.
Aside from our blue moods, another reason gatherings are so difficult is that we have nothing to talk about but the death. As stated before, my life stopped the moment Xavier's did. What can I possibly talk about... how I cried three times instead of six yesterday. I feel I have nothing in common with anyone right now. I am in a heavy dark cloud surrounded by puffy white clouds. The only things I do now are those tasks that have to be done. Even those things I have to push myself to do. Anything I do beyond that is not for my enjoyment, but to keep my daughter's life somewhat normal. Maybe someone there would want to listen to me become a blabbering mess as I talk about the only significant thing that has happened in my life lately, but its not a great way to get invited to the next party.
I suppose I could just listen.
But, to be honest, listening to others talk about their summer vacations, workplace drama or life in general is painful. I want to be supportive and excited or even sympathetic, but I struggle. It hurts because I am stuck in my grief. I can't just snap out of it or move forward because grieving is a process we must go through to heal. To deny these feelings, this misery called loss, will only delay the process.
The grief is so intense I can't hide from it.
And then there is the awkwardness. Do you or do you want others to talk about your loved one? The fact I can't even answer that question right now tells me I am not ready to be social. In the first place, I don't want people to tell me they are sorry Xavier died. It feels too much like visitation all over again. And if they bring up memories of Xavier it will make me happy, but also sad. And then they will try to make me feel better with some good-hearted, but stupid comments like at least he is not suffering or he is in a good place (for which I am also guilty of saying). But, in those moments of pain, no words can console me. He is not here anymore and nothing makes that better or right.
But, to not talk about him at all hurts even more.
I will find the strength and one event after the other it will get easier--or so I hope.