Monday, November 14, 2011

Year Two: Pulling Back the Curtain

Geez whoever said the 2nd year of widowhood could be harder hit the nail square on the head. We've got just over 3.5 months left in it. What I hoped would be a time of healing has turned into a time of revealing more of what needs to be healed. Having a new baby and some other things going on probably pushed the tough stuff back a bit. It took 18 months for me to break open about the anger I felt. I guess that is a necessary step. This is a really long road.

Children especially (and I have two) have complicated grief. With my son, even at 22 months, he is drawn to male companionship. He's fortunate to have a Godfather who loves him. He will about 50% of the time now recognize a picture on the fridge as his daddy because I told him that is who it was. My daughter, I now know will need 2 therapists. One for some reading and speech issues that showed up late and another for grief.

It's just been in the last few months my daughter has really started to talk in bits and pieces how she feels about what happened to her father and now she says it is on her mind a lot. Last night she said, she thought he would be around for her to grow up and she's outraged he is not here. She was very calm when she said it, but still hearing your child say she's outraged and you can't fix it stinks. Yesterday she saw a dad pick his daughter up and kiss her and I could see the hurt in her face.

School is an issue and an evaluation revealed some significant gaps in her learning. She tells me there is a lot going on in her brain.

And why wouldn't there be anyway? A large number of children who lose a parent also lose an entire year or more academically and have to catch up later. When we are struggling with the homework I try to remember that. Her father is dead. She's confused and she misses him. She's mad he's gone but also relieved he didn't give me what he had. He coughed a lot and at six years old of course she thought he was contagious. She's concerned about not having a father, but mostly because I have to do it all for her and her brother and she doesn't think that's fair. I certainly can't argue with her, but it is really any wonder there isn't much room left for remembering there are 3 feet in a yard?

She's a loving child who tries hard. She is brilliant in that when she is thriving she shines like the sun...the cutest little cheerleader, an animal lover, a budding Science geek, and a soloist in the children's choir. Test grades are low though and with this being an EOG year, it's worrisome. Her overall GPA is only saved by how well she does on her homework and classwork even though it takes her longer. And the mercy of her teacher who graciously sent me a packet of work she got behind on last week to complete by this Friday and still get full credit.

She is just zoning out at certain times, probably partially due to everything she is thinking about and the gaps the therapist found. Previously when she was corrected for zoning out, she'd start crying, but she has stopped doing that since I became aware of it. Yes, there's some drama queen in there too. Other than that she is very well behaved and I can count on one hand the number of negative behavior comments I've gotten in the last 2 years.

But a visit to her pediatrician is on the list too because if there's another issue causing the lack of focus I want to address it. The therapist didn't notice any, but one thing I do notice is when left on her own to write something, it comes out just like anything her father would write…a lot of misspelled words and grammatical errors that make her sentences nonsense. It's like there's a block between all the rules she is learning and putting them to use. She can convey she understands a story orally, but if left to write a summary of the story, it's a mess.

But if I put her down with her Science book and there's questions at the end of a chapter and she has to look up the answers in the content and write them down she can do it. One morning I discovered we'd forgotten to do her Science homework and she got it done in 15 minutes flat. Now she does love Science, but with her other issues, I'd think she would struggle with this. I'm glad she doesn't, but it doesn't make sense to me that she doesn't if that makes sense.

One thing the therapist did say was that there is likely nothing I could have done to prevent what has happened with her and that I'm doing the right thing getting help for her, which was therapeutic in itself. But I called our local hospice to make an appointment for myself. Life had not settled enough to fit it in previously and really I'm just peeling back the layers and able to talk about what happened in a way that therapy could be beneficial. I've always been sad or mad about him being gone, but have found a way to stay on the road to a good life. We have good times together and we stay positive about our challenges. I'm just really starting to feel the reality of what I'm facing. Some of it Thomas left me with because life and his illness meant we didn't address it during his life. Some things I'm facing directly because of his death and some things I might be facing either way, but they're magnified because of his death in one way or another. Exhaustion sets in and it is setting in when my daughter needs me more than ever.

During his life, our situation was very private out of respect for my husband and I don't regret it. But where I go from here is my decision. There's no fear of seeking professional help especially when it comes to my children. The trick of needing counseling being a structural weakness takes too many people under. Too many people are swallowed up in isolation surrounded by a fear of being labeled weak. Were I weak, I would never have survived to this point and that goes for anyone in the same situation. Is it fair? Nope, but fair only exists in children's games. Who knows why some people face things that would crush most people, but God has always proven Himself to be the equalizer and talking to Him let me know I am equipped for this. That could mean I use the strength God gave me to handle it or I use His strength to find the right resources for help. Either way, I just know that, I take His strength and take charge...hearbreak and all.

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