On March 23, 2013 when I was out doing errands, my husband Glenn suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. When I arrived back home I found him in bed in duress. Just staring at me with his big blue/grey eyes. His eyes were big as a house and seemed to look right through me.
It was soon evident that Glenn was in trouble. He tried to tell me something, but it came out all gobbledygook. I remember calling 911, doing life support measures and calmly stepping aside for the paramedics so they could take over.
This calmness continued for the five days while I sat vigil by his side in the ICU, took him off life support, planned his funeral and memorial service.
At first, I thought something was wrong with me because I hadn’t fallen apart, yet…
Then after the funeral and memorial service behind me grief hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember the exact moment. I was at my best friend’s house in MD. She had driven to NY to help me with his memorial service and I rode back to MD with her and was to fly home to CA from there. The night before I was to fly home I was in bed staring at the ceiling late at night when it suddenly hit me that my husband had died and was never coming back, and I was alone.
I must have cried a river that night and for many nights after that. It was physically painful. I had felt nothing like this before. Up until then I was coping just fine. I remember even smiling and chatting people up at his funeral and memorial service. It didn’t feel so bad at first. I was okay.
In hindsight those first few months after my tragic loss I was in shock. I’ve learned that the body gives us the gift of shock so can get through the tough times. I don’t know how I could have made it through those first few raw months without it.
If you are new to grief just know that grief is a process, a journey of sorts. Each journey is as individual as you and your loved ones. I also know there are some guideposts along the way that help us get through and one of the first of which is the gift of shock.