July 27th, 2006 . by The Grief Blog
HEALING THE GRIEVING HEART
Grief and Your Health: Taking Care of Yourself
Host: Dr. Gloria Horsley
With guest: Coralease C. Ruff, RN, Ph.D.
July 27, 2006
G: Hello. I?m Dr. Gloria Horsley with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley. Each week, we welcome you to Healing the Grieving Heart, a show of hope and renewal for those who have suffered the loss of a child or a sibling or a grandchild and always our message is we?ve made it, you can make it, others have been there before you, and you do not walk alone. If you?re listening to our Thursday live internet show, please join Heidi and me on the show by calling our toll free number, 1-866-472-5792, with questions or comments regarding the losses in your life. These shows are archived on our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, and www.thecompassionatefriends.org website. They can also be downloaded on Itunes, and we are on selected radio stations. Heidi, would you like to give them the names of those areas we?re in and they can go on our website to find out the call letters?
H: Sure. We?re in Chicago, the Boston area, Richmond, Virginia, and Monterey, Santa Cruz, Carmel, those areas.
G: And we?re on Sunday morning in California so you?d have to figure out the time from there. So you can find out more about these by going to our website and you can also go to our website to get your quote of the week and also Library of Life. And Heidi, I want to discuss an email today regarding our Library of Life website, because if you go on our website and go to Library of Life and hit that, you will find Heidi?s brother, Scott, and my son, Scott?s memorial website from Library of Life, and we got an email from Deb, and Deb says that she visited the Library of Life memorial website for Scott. She said:
Dear Gloria and Heidi:
I wanted to visit your son and brother’s site because I listen to your show often and have found it so wonderful so I wanted to get to know your son and brother. My heartfelt gratitude for all you do in this life to help others in this journey we must travel. I lost two children myself, ages 18 and 23 years old, and now lead a chapter in their honor. May you find some comfort in what others give to you as I do. As always. Deb.
H: Thank you, Deb. And I love how she’s trying to get to know Scott through us and I think that is one of our roles in life is keeping the memories of the people that we love alive and trying to let people know who these people were when they were in our lives.
G: Absolutely, and they’re still in our lives in so many ways and it?s a way to keep it alive, and the Library of Life is a great way to do it. If you go to our website and look at it, I set that up in no time. You can put pictures on it. You can put videos on it. I didn?t have any video. And also it?s only $50 for a lifetime so it?s really quite a wonderful thing to do. A second email that we got, Heidi, is from ? oh, and I just want to say, Deb, thank you so much for your email.
H: Thank you, Deb.
G: Yeah, it?s really fun to get them. We also got one from Thomas. He lives in Biloxi. He says:
On your show last week
Our show last week was Delain Johnson, Death of a Child on Active Duty in Iraq. Her son was killed in Iraq in 2003, and he said:
Regarding your show last week, I send my condolences as I am in the Air Force and have been in for 25 years now. I was deployed in Iraq for Freedom Campaign and I wish to thank Delain and her family for serving in our nation?s military and for the hard work that goes into helping other countries feel safe and have the freedoms that we do here in the United States. I look forward to calling in and talking to you both sometime. Thanks again for your show and God bless. Thomas.
H: Thomas makes such a good point. These people are over fighting a war for us and we have to remember that and honor that.
G: And you ought to go listen to the show with Delain. It?s quite inspiring. She has not only lost a son, but her daughter-in-law is now over there in Iraq and her other son was there and he is now taking care of the kids. So a very wonderful family. So Heidi, did you have a couple of emails you wanted to read?
H: Yes, I do. The first one I?m going to talk about is Mark from Mississippi. Mark is actually a psychologist friend of mine that I used to work with when I lived in New Orleans. This email is in response to an article that we wrote, Mom, the article that we wrote for The Compassionate Friends magazine, We Need Not Walk Alone, and it?s on continuing bonds and you can also get it on our website.
G: www.healingthegrievingheart.org. You can go in and read that article.
H: Absolutely. And when Hurricane Katrina happened, Mark?s community was absolutely devastated. He lives on the shore of the Mississippi. He lost his house. He lost his community. He lost his kid?s school. They lost everything. And they really had to figure out should we rebuild? Should we go back? There?s nothing to go back to. And they are still ? there?s so much devastation today still there and he?s living in a FEMA trailer and trying to put the pieces of his life back together again and so are a lot of other people down south right now. What he wrote was:
Dear Heidi and Gloria,
Wow, what an excellent article. You and your mother have really hit on something. I?ve spoken with many many people who lost loved ones during Hurricane Katrina and they have heard the old school philosophy of the 12-month grieving process. I hope you don?t mind if I print a few copies of the article and distribute them. Let me know if that?s okay.
H: It?s absolutely okay and I?m so glad that that hit home for you and that resonated with you and we?d love for you to distribute that to all the people down south that are still trying to recover from the devastation of what happened.
G: Absolutely and if there are any of you that ever want to download anything off our website, please feel free to do that and pass it out because that?s what we?re in business for. It?s to help you and to try to help other people.
H: Absolutely. Our article talks about something that Coralease also talked about. She also has an article, our guest today, in Compassionate Friends, and both of them, we talk about the fact that getting over it, closure, and moving on were not terms that resonated with us and with you all. And we know that what we have done is to incorporate, what I?ve done is to incorporate my brother into my life in a new way and keep his memory alive and honor him in ways so that he continues to impact the world.
G: So it’s not the old thing of the Kubler-Ross model which is acceptance that so many of us know about, the continuing bonds. Well, Heidi, I think you have one more email. Do you want to read that or do you want to save it until break and introduce our guest since you mentioned her?
H: Okay, because the next email is also about continuing bonds. It?s also about our article so it has the same theme and it says:
Please let me say I’m sorry about your son, Scott. I really look forward to listening to your radio show. I?m a bereaved parent also. My son, Ricky, was killed in a car accident November 14, 2003. I have just read your article in the TCF newsletter on continuing bonds. I just kept shaking my head in agreement with what you have written. You mentioned the Reed family releases environmentally friendly balloons every year. We release balloons as well but I haven?t been able to find this type. Is there anywhere you could recommend me to look? I appreciate your time. Hugs. Ingrid, Ricky?s mom forever.
G: Oh, thank you, Ingrid, for that email. I did talk to our balloon people in San Francisco and their comment was yes, you need to get biodegradable balloons. They?re a little bit more expensive but ask your balloon store and find them. Ingrid, thank you so much for that message and all of you. And Heidi and I both say we are so touched and also we want to say that we are so very saddened about the loss of your children and the reason we?re in contact together.
G: So, Heid, do you want to introduce our guest?
H: Sure, I?d love to. Our topic today is Grief and Your Health: Taking Care of Yourself, and our guest is Dr. Coralease C. Ruff. Dr. Coralease Ruff is a registered nurse and a nursing professor. She began working in the field of bereavement ten years ago following the untimely death of her beloved 21-year-old daughter, Kandy, in a car accident in the Dominican Republic where she was serving as a missionary. Dr. Ruff is a National Board member of The Compassionate Friends and is a frequent presenter on grief. She has presented at the Compassionate Friends National Conferences and at the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association. She teaches a nursing course on grief and loss for nursing students at Howard University. Welcome to the show Coralease.
C: Thank you, Heidi, it?s good to be here.
G: Oh, thanks, it?s so fun to have you on the show, Coralease.
C: Thank you, Gloria.
G: I?m excited about it.
C: So am I. Yes.
G: We?re going to have to go to break in a minute so I don?t want to get into your story until after our break so I was wondering if you might want to comment on some of those emails. Did you have any thought?
C: Actually, the one on continuing bonds is just right on, and I want to applaud you and Heidi for writing that because that has been what?s been so helpful to me is being able to develop some of those continuing bonds with our daughter and so for you to share that, it was wonderful, so I?m glad that you did write that and that people are reading it.
H: And Coralease I love the scholarship you set up in your daughter?s memory and you said now that eight people have benefited from that scholarship.
C: Yes, yes, in fact we have just chosen the new one and we?re going to meet her on the 22nd of August.
G: Oh, that?s great. What a wonderful thing to do to carry on with that.
H: And the fact that your daughter is still touching so many lives through these scholarships.
C: Yes. It?s been wonderful, and of course, we heal just a little bit each time we share her story and our story.
G: Right, well, we?re coming up on break now and when we come back, we?ll talk more with Coralease Ruff. I?m your host, Dr. Gloria Horsley with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley. Please stay tuned to hear more about Taking Care of Yourself and Grief and Your Health. These shows are archived on www.thecompassionatefriends.org website as well as our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org. You can also download it on Ipod. Please stay tuned to hear more.
Well, Coralease, when we went to break, we were talking about some articles that we?ve written for the We Need Not Walk Alone magazine from Compassionate Friends and I believe that?s on line but the current issue is not and you can go on our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, to pick that up and we?ll have Coralease?s article up there, too, probably in a few days. This show is live if you?re on on Thursday. If you would like to call in, our line is 866-472-5792 and that?s a toll free number. Coralease, we didn?t get into your daughter?s story and what happened in your family?s life and I wondered if you could tell us about that.
C: Okay, as Heidi said, she was 21. She was Candice Monique. We called her Kandy and she had decided she wanted to be a missionary for a year so following graduation from University of Virginia, she went to the Dominican Republic because she wanted to use her Spanish and so she traveled there. Less than three months after her arrival there, we received a telephone call about a terrible accident in which some highway construction machinery had crashed into her car and soon thereafter, the call came saying that she had died from her injuries, and that was January 31, 1997, and it?s been nearly ten years now. So that?s what started us on this journey.
G: Yeah, I wondered, when you?re telling that story, what a motivated, directed young lady she was.
C: Yes, very much so.
G: That?s kind of amazing. She was a girl who knew what she wanted to do. When you found out, I?m wondering for some of our folks out there who have lost family members like we just had somebody on in Iraq and people that we?ve known who have lost family members not in the vicinity, what happened with you? How did you find out? You must have been frantic. Did you go there? What did you do?
C: We did go there. It happened on a Friday noon and we weren?t able to get out until Saturday morning.
G: Now did she die immediately?
C: She died soon thereafter. I don?t know the exact period between there because we had received the call about the accident and so soon thereafter, another call came and it came to my office neighbor and she was trying to figure out how she was going to come and tell me. When she entered my office, she did not have to say a word. Her facial expression said it all, and so she never said the words so I don?t know how much time there was between the two calls, but, yes, we did travel down there the next day. Gosh, we had to ? we didn?t speak any Spanish and everything, of course, was done in Spanish, all the documents and everything.
H: Wow. You must have felt so out of control being in grief and then not speaking the language.
C: Exactly. Well, fortunately, her missionary family down there, her missionary network was so wonderful. From the time they picked us up at the airport to taking us to the funeral home, to
G: Now was your son with you?
C: He was with us, yes. We took him.
G: How old was he?
C: He was almost 18, yes, so we did take him with us and it was probably the most therapeutic thing we could have done to go down there.
H: I love that you included your son and it was a family thing ? you all did it together.
C: Yes. Exactly, yes. They had a memorial service down there for her which was just wonderful and meeting all the people that she had met. The memorial service had almost 200 people there and there was not a dry eye in the place. I said, you know, these people loved her almost as much as we did and they only knew her a couple of months, you know. So it was a tremendously therapeutic experience going down there. Traumatic, of course, but
G: Now, did you see her body then?
C: We did see her body. Yes. Yes. It was interesting because the funeral home ? she wasn?t really prepared for us to see her at that point but they did let us see her and then they had to go on with embalming and all that because they wouldn?t let the remains leave the country until all that had been done.
G: It?s hard for our families out there who weren?t able to see a body I would think.
C: Yes, I would think it would be extremely difficult because that was ? it made it real for me because I kept thinking oh, there?s been a mistake, you know. We?ll find out differently. And so I did then get to see her and that then made it real, and so not having the remains there, yeah, would be extremely difficult.
G: I know Heidi and I have worked with the 9/11 families where there are no remains and it?s difficult. We interviewed the Kiefer sisters and they said that sometimes they thought maybe their brother has amnesia somewhere.
C: Yes. You think all kinds of things. And then, of course, we did do a burial so then we have a site to go to to visit if we want to.
G: And I sometimes suggest to people who are concerned about that that they create some kind of a site, too, if they did not have remains or did not see them that you can create a site.
H: I?ve had people I know that have taken a casket and put in all their loved one?s favorite things and actually had a service and buried the casket and gotten a head stone.
C: Oh, wonderful. I think that?s a great idea.
H: So they have a place to go where they
G: And I know some of our people have suffered out there because we?re talking about health today and the suffering of your body and I know some folks have suffered out there because they had an opportunity to see the body and they chose not to or somebody talked them out of it and I always have to say to them, you?ve got to realize you did the best that you could at the time.
C: Yes, absolutely, and what I always say to people, too, is that some of those feelings of regret, sometimes if you write a letter to them expressing those feelings of regret, at least sometimes that can help, because they do wish they had gone to the scene of the accident or gone to view the remains.
G: But, as I said, you do the best you can at the time and feeling the regret over time is very stressful, wouldn?t you say?
C: Very much so, because just the loss itself, the death itself is stressful and then, of course, having those other regrets and feelings of guilt increases the stress. You?re exactly right.
H: I?m also wondering if there?s a flip side. Now I?ve never heard of it but I?m going ask both of you. Have you ever run across anyone that?s viewed the body and regretted it?
C: I have not.
G: I have not either.
H: I haven?t either so I just wondered if Coralease said Kandy was not embalmed and they did not prepare her and I didn?t know how that was.
C: Well, at that point, it was just her physical appearance in terms of whatever they do to the skin and all so they had not done any of that when we saw her initially. However, by the time they finished and we saw her back here, she was back to her old self. But she had put on a lot of weight. There was a lot of edema from the injuries to her head which is basically where the injuries were so it looked as if she had put on maybe 50 pounds in weight but here again, by the time of the services back here, all of that had been resolved so she was back to her normal size.
H: Oh, wow, I didn?t know they could do that. Okay.
G: Well, it?s time for us to go on break now and we?re talking to Dr. Coralease Ruff about Grief and Your Health and Taking Care of Yourself. You?re listening to Healing the Grieving Heart with Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley. You can access us through our email at www.healingthegrievingheart.org. These shows are archived on our website as well as www.thecompassionatefriends.org website and they can also be downloaded on Ipod. Please stay tuned for more.
G: Well, Coralease and Heidi, when we went to break, we were talking about Kandy being killed in the automobile accident in the Dominican Republic where she?d gone down to be a missionary. We talked about the funeral and then we were talking about seeing the body and those early stages and I think it would be interesting to talk about those stages, Coralease, about what, shock or early shock for people?
C: Well, yes, basically when we talk about shock, you just are not believing what?s going on. You?re in a fog.
G: And what about the physical aspects? I remember going to the bathroom a lot at first. Losing like five pounds.
C: Yes, you do lose weight.
G: Because you?ve got that adrenalin hit.
C: Yes, you?ve got that adrenalin flowing so you?re constantly in motion, your body is secreting all these stress hormones. You can?t eat. Some people overeat. Some can?t eat. You can?t sleep. Some can?t sleep. Some won?t want to do anything except sleep.
G: I?m not a big one for sleeping pills but that?s the one time when I did take a couple of sleeping pills because I just couldn?t sleep at all. My body was tense.
C: All fired up. You have chest pains. Your heart really does hurt. You can?t concentrate. You forget things. You?re sensitive to noise. Just all kinds of things do happen to you.
H: You know what happened to me, Coralease? I don?t know if this is normal or not. I had bruises on the outside of my forehead. My forehead was bruised from being in so much pain and grief.
C: I?ve heard all kinds of things that happen to people include premature graying of the hair, premature onset of menopause. All kinds of different issues. And those are all real things that do happen to people that I think is so important for people to understand that that?s all a part of grieving and that you?re not abnormal or unusual if that happens to you, but sleep. It?s very difficult to get to sleep as you said, Gloria. You may need to have some medication to help with the sleep.
G: But not alcohol, people.
C: Not alcohol because then that makes bad matters worse. But, yes, it is important. One of the things that helps with the sleep is if you can do some exercise.
G: Right, oh, I think exercise is so important.
C: It is so important for relieving many of those symptoms that you have. Even it helps to elevate your mood. It helps with sleep. It even helps with the appetite problems or the eating problems.
G: And you know what, in those early times, it may just be walking around the block.
G: Walking to the end of the driveway and back is a start.
H: Or just stretching.
G: Yeah, just putting your arms up in the air and stretching.
C: And speaking of stretching, just deep breathing. If you?re just sitting somewhere, and if you just breathe. Get some oxygen into your lungs and throughout your body, that is so important, and we don?t breathe deeply enough anyway under normal circumstances, and when we are overly stressed and doing acute grief, we tend to even hold our breath and we breathe more superficially.
H: And that gave me really bad heartburn, too.
C: So just breathing deeply trying to expand the lungs more and breathing slowly, inhaling and exhaling slowly, that alone can help relieve some of the tension. That?s so common.
G: It sounds so simple. I always say to people, drink water, eat, and try to get some sleep.
C: Absolutely. Drinking water, yes, because we forget. We don?t think about any of these things during grief because we?re in such horrible pain that things of this nature don?t even come into our awareness.
G: And we are getting so dehydrated.
C: Yes, absolutely.
G: And not even knowing that.
C: So the intake of water is so important. Other fluids as well, but certainly eating, trying to eat small meals rather than three regular meals. If we eat like our favorite foods but avoiding some of those sugary, highly spiced foods and those kinds of things. Usually around the time of a death, everybody brings in cakes and pies.
H: I was just thinking that and it?s so ironic because everybody brings the most amazing food and it?s the time in your life when you don?t want to eat and you have all this great food in front of you.
G: And they?re also bringing a lot of casseroles which are really high in calories and salt.
C: True. Yes. So if we can stay with steamed veggies and things of that nature.
G: And fruit.
C: Fruit, absolutely. It?s so helpful.
G: And then remember the hole in your stomach.
C: Absolutely. The hole in your stomach, the hole in your heart. You?ve got holes everywhere.
G: Those sighing breaths, those waves of grief that wash over you that you never know when they?re going to come.
H: One of the worst waves is when you wake up one morning and you realize the person?s dead. That?s a horrible feeling when you first wake up. You?re kind of calm for the first second, and then you realize this is not a dream. This happened.
C: Exactly, that it really is real and yes, what do I do now? I think one of the things that I?ve found many people most surprised about is the memory loss and the confusion.
G: Well, I remember that Heather was at home. Heidi was in college so you can vouch for yourself there, Heidi, but when you?re in school, these people were in school and her math teacher called me up and he said well, she?s not able to do the math problems. And I said, well, because she just lost her brother.
C: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, our son had gone off to college and he called me near the end of the semester and he said, mom, I have to withdraw. I said, you have to withdraw? What does that mean? He said, mom, I?m flunking every single course.
H: I can relate to him. The same exact thing happened to me. I was flunking every single course and I had to withdraw.
G: But, if you?re not in college, you can?t withdraw.
H: Well, that?s the fact that I say to parents. That?s the problem. Adults have the option of scaling back on their lives. Children don?t. You have to remember that.
C: Exactly, because when I said to him I was taking three months bereavement leave, he said, mom, I think I need some time off, too, and so I said, fine, but it was muddling through the best we could and you?re right. We forget about the children. We forget about the siblings that need the time off as well.
G: It?s time for us to go to break now and when we come back, we?re going to talk with Dr. Coralease Ruff on Grief and Your Health and Taking Care of Yourself.
Well, it?s great to be back on the show and we were saying during break that we hope we?ve said enough about your health and we?ll try to do a little more of that now. I remember one of the things that I was most stressed with was my children, my remaining children. I found it very stressful wondering about where they were, wondering about what was going on, all that anxiety. You had a son, right? I had three daughters.
H: He was 18 at the time, right?
C: He was nearly 18 and I worried so much about him. I didn?t want to let him out of my sight in fact so much so that he said, ?Oh, mom, please, give me a break.? But I did worry a lot about him, about how he was dealing with it, and I was worried that something would happen to him.
H: Yeah, and I love in your article that you mention that. You said, finally he had to say, ?Mom, stop. I?ll be okay? and reassure you. It?s so hard at 18 also because you?re separating and individuating and trying to move out of your parents? home and get more freedom and yet after the death of a child, parents tend to pull you back in.
C: Exactly, because they realize the world is no longer safe and anything can happen.
H: And they realize they could die suddenly.
G: So, Heid, what would you say to those stressed parents out there?
H: I see both sides so much. It is so hard and that doesn?t answer your question.
G: Well, it normalizes it. It says it is hard. I think we?re all saying that. You?re saying it, Coralease. I?m saying it. It is hard.
H: And the teens tell me over and over and over, please let us be normal kids. Please let us be normal teens. We know our brother or sister died but we need to live our lives and we need to be normal teens and we need to have appropriate freedom, and I say to parents all the time that are grieving, because sometimes you can?t make rational decisions because you?re grieving. I say go to parents that you trust and respect and ask them what kind of freedom they give their children and try to gear some of your rules around that because otherwise, you won?t give your kids enough freedom and that?ll wreak havoc in your life.
G: Well, what a great suggestion to go to non-stressed parents or people who haven?t lost a child and ask what are you doing so we know whether we?re appropriate or not.
H: Well, that?s it, right, exactly.
C: And also listening to those who are further along in their grief and how they?re doing with their children now.
H: Coralease, that?s a great idea.
G: Yeah, I think one of the things that I always say is my kids are doing great now and I didn?t always do the best parenting job when I was going through the loss.
C: Right, and that?s helpful for people who are newly bereaved that I?m not unusual if I?m a fanatic about this and that it will get better.
H: And sometimes parents come to me also when I do workshops and say has the death of your sibling ruined your life? And I say, no, it?s been a defining moment in my life and it?s defined my life but my life is wonderful now and I still miss Scott and I always will and it?s been horrible that he died, but you can go on and heal and have a wonderful life.
C: Absolutely. How old were you, Heidi, when he died?
H: I was 20.
H: And so it was interesting here, and my sister was 19 and I have a sister that was 14 and hearing you. You said on break that your son didn?t grieve in front of you.
C: Oh, absolutely. I didn?t see any evidence. I remember when we first gave him the news, he cried, and that was it. I never saw any more tears, and I couldn?t get him to talk about her.
G: Which stressed you, right?
C: Oh, absolutely.
G: It is so stressful on us physically.
H: And that?s so normal for surviving children not to grieve in front of their parents because we don?t want to cause our parents any more pain.
C: Oh, absolutely.
H: They?ve been through enough and so we?re being good kids by not grieving in front of them.
G: So the message is out there, let?s try to relax around that a little bit.
H: And realize that kids are grieving. They?re grieving with their peers and their friends.
G: And they may be grieving on the internet also, now.
H: And they?re grieving alone.
G: Well, Coralease, I can?t believe it, but it?s almost time to close the show and I wondered if you had any advice for people that you?d like to give on health before we close.
C: Oh, dear. Let?s see. Oh, a couple of things that are so important with this lack of concentration and all to be careful with things like driving. I have read someplace that driving during acute grief is as deadly as driving while intoxicated.
H: Wow, that?s scary.
C: Things like even household tasks. Preparing meals and all being careful about not leaving the burner on or things of that nature. People have almost set their house on fire. This lack of concentration and memory loss is something that is really, really serious and I think we don?t attribute it even to our grieving. Many parents have said to me, you know, I didn?t realize that as I explained why they are so forgetful. They said, you know, I never thought about that. I said, well you?re grieving. It?s normal during acute grief to have this memory loss, and so be careful with those kinds of things with sharp objects in the kitchen. Sharp knives and all. Be very, very careful with those.
H: And also, I think if you have small children, you need to ask people for help.
C: Oh, absolutely, because they can get hurt so quickly.
G: Well, thank you so much for being on the show today, Coralease Ruff. It was wonderful having you on and you?re such a good friend and such a good person and thank you so much. We?re going to have your article up on our website for people to read.
C: Okay. It?s been my pleasure. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
G: It?s time to close our show, and please stay tuned again next week when our topic will be Surviving a Sibling and our guest will be Scott Mastley. Scott Mastley has written a book based on his interviews with bereaved people. This show is archived on our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, as well as www.thecompassionatefriends.org website. This is Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley. Thanks for listening.
H: Thank you Coralease and Kandy?s memory lives on through all the people that she touched.
C: Thank you.
Posted in Radio Show Guests, Dealing with Grief, Healing the Grieving Heart Radio, Past Show Transcripts, Grief and Depression, Grief and Health | Edit|
One Response to ?Grief and Your Health: Taking Care of Yourself – Coralease C. Ruff, RN, Ph.D.?
comment number 1 by: The Grief Blog
January 4th, 2007 at 1:30 am e
Dear Ms. Ruff, I am looking for help for my husband. Nearly 3 years ago, our first child died at 39.5 weeks of my pregnancy. The cause of her death is unknown. She looked so perfect?so beautiful.
Of course, I do not have to explain to you the torment and torture that the death of a child brings to the very existence of the parent?s lives. A very important thing to mention is that 13 months after our first baby daughter died, we were blessed with a second baby daugther healthy and alive?she?s now almost 2 years old. I know how I deal with it?as best I can, but this email is not about me.
About 2.5 months ago my husband started having chest pains/discomfort and weird abdominal discomfort. I have said from the beginning of this?could this be delayed grief? Post traumatic Stress Disorder? Well, after ct scans, ultrasounds, stress test, this doctor that doctor, finally a heart cath was done. (We also saw a gastro doc?he did endoscope?found nothing. The heart surgeon found one area of blockage and put in a stent?.the good news is we warded off a potential heart attack down the road. Even the surgeon said he was not confident that this amount of blockage (50-70 % in one place) was causing his discomfort. The bad news is he is still have the same discomfort. Could this be PTSD or grief?
I know men greive differently. I ask my husband?he doesn?t really accept the question. He grieved?.he loves our baby daughter that lives in heaven?he misses her immensly. I have se en him cry a hand full of times. He says he mostly outwardly expresses his sorrow when he is alone. He says?why now?almost 3 years later. I know the first year he was being strong for me because I was so low. Then we both had to be strong for our second child?.as strong as we could be. All of the chest pain started when we decided to sell our house, get a rental and build a new house. All of this?so I can take a pay cut and take a career dealing with children ( a direct result of my grief?finding my life?s meaning and purpuse for my baby that died).
I know that alone is enough to depress anyone?but my husband says he?s not worried one bit about these things. I wonder could all this be because we moved from the only place our daughter lived?.in my body of course, but in that house? I have tried not to be too lengthy, but to give enough information for your thoughts. I?m just searching for anyone to help. Not, only my husband, but I still cry or tear up most days. I love my baby girl and long to hold her and wonder what happened and why it had to happen, every day?.and all the terror, guilt, and fear that comes along with the death of a child.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for any words of love. I found your email in We Need Not Walk Alone that I received from an inquiry to Compassionate Friends. Thanks again, and may God bless you, ? ?a grieving mother?