The Physical Toll of Grief

Yesterday was June 28th. Exactly six months, twenty-six weeks, since our beloved son died. Twenty-six joyless Shabbats. Twenty-six dreaded Saturday mornings. One hundred eighty-two days I have had to live in this world without Jake. It still doesn’t seem possible. Of all the people on this earth, I still can’t imagine how it came to pass that Jake is no longer with us, that this terrible calamity would befall him, and us.

We all know that grief is a complex emotion. Rather a combination of emotions: rage, sorrow, confusion, despair, agony, resignation, coming in stages or sometimes, all at once. But what is more apparent each day, is that these emotions exact a terrible physical toll on us. I am exhausted from the moment I awaken until I am finally able to lay myself down at the end of each day. Yesterday, I couldn’t even get out of bed until the afternoon. I got up, puttered around for a while, ate a piece of French toast, and went back to sleep until 7:30 in the evening. Somehow, my body knew what day it was. More accurately, my mind knew what day it was and the terrible sadness incapacitated my body for the day.

One of the most interesting books we read when Terry was pregnant, and we read a bunch of them, (after all, we wanted to be the “perfect” parents) is “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child” by Thomas Verny. In it the author explains how the mother’s emotions and anxieties, the father’s involvement, and the external environment in general all affect the developing fetus. The chemical messages she sends to her baby vary depending on her emotional state, and if she is anxious or depressed it can be detrimental to the baby’s future development. It is a fascinating read. Our minds and bodies are also linked in a similar way, exchanging chemical messages constantly. The messages I have been sending my body these past six months have wreaked havoc with my physical well-being.

I ache all over. Especially in my back and legs. I move slowly, gingerly, muscles and joints protesting. I am weak and fragile. Not just emotionally, but physically. It is an effort to climb stairs, to get in and out of my car. I feel drained, depleted, defeated. I know part of this is that I haven’t been to the gym in months. A year ago, I worked out three to four days a week, lost a ton of weight; was building toward a leaner, fitter me. Now, I lack the impetus to drag myself to the gym, and am paying the price each day. I know how good it would be for me to re-start my exercise program, but somehow, I just can’t get myself going. I haven’t picked up a golf club since Jake died; I can barely stand to look at a golf course.

I am able to make it through each day, complete the trifling, mundane tasks I need to do, but it is the bigger things I am having trouble with. I don’t have the energy or the enthusiasm to stick with long-term projects. I don’t have much enthusiasm for anything. I have so much to do, and so little desire to do any of it. Hell, it has taken me three days just to write these few hundred words. Some days are better than others. On the good days, I can read, write, think a little more clearly. I can put my sorrow on the shelf for a few moments and actually become productive for a couple of hours. I suppose that is progress of a sort. I have some research for a writing project I need to do, and I am slowly grinding through that, but I don’t have the constancy of attention I used to possess. I am easily distracted. And there are days where I can scarcely do more than check my emails, have some lunch and lose myself in a thousand trivial things to occupy my time. I am learning to do what I can when I can, and just surrender myself when I can’t do much of anything. After all it has only been six short months. Six long months. Six wearying lifetimes. And I am so weary.




About edcol52

The Infinite Fountain of Love and Loss flows unceasingly into the pool of memory and sorrow. I created this blog in response to the most dreadful tragedy every parent fears, the death of a child, our 24 year old son, Jake. We are now on an unimagined journey along this road of grief and recovery. If you can find some comfort within these pages, than I will have succeeded in some small measure.
This entry was posted in Coping, Daily Ramblings, Grief, Progress, Sadness and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Physical Toll of Grief

  1. miragreen says:

    Without question, our bodies suffer as much as we do emotionally. I’ve often thought of the long term effect I may face one day, and even that is not enough to motivate some movement or care. Give yourself the time to hurt. The emotional strain is just one aspect to which we have to adjust. Wishing you better days

  2. Missy's Crafty Mess says:

    Grief in my opinion is more exhausting than childbirth. Having lost a child and more recently my only sibling. I know how tiresome the process is. My thoughts and prayers are with you & yours. Just take it one day at a time. It’s all we can do.

  3. Melissa says:

    I can’t ease your pain anymore than you can ease mine but please know I understand.

  4. Yes, grief is exhausting. It’s four years for us now, and we both have trouble functioning. Our brains are distracted, just as our bodies are. We’ve suffered an amputation and everyone in our family is feeling it.

    The three Israeli boys murdered this week, brought all the original pain back and more. My Jacob was 43, so at least he had time to marry, have two children, live a good, short life. Be good and kind to yourself, healing is taking place and it needs solitude, time, and more time. So sorry for us, Abby

  5. I understand. There are days when I wonder if I have some form of debilitating arthritis as my joints are screaming in pain if I sit too long. The adrenaline from the shock helped me to lose 30 lbs without trying in those early months after Amy died. Now the scale is going in the opposite direction and I lack the energy or motivation to do what I need to do in order to stop the number from going up. Hope that changes for both of us sooner than later. Wishing you and your wife peace.

  6. Rafael Benaroya says:

    My dear Dear friend: I wish I could carry your pain even for a little while . I send you hugs and deep brotherly love with the hope that time will produce some amelioration to the intensity of your pain.

  7. grahamforeverinmyheart says:

    It was a whole year before I could pull myself together enough to attempt to resume my daily exercise. Before that, each time I tried to exercise I would burst into tears and give up. Now, I exercise, but in a less intense and much more distracted way. I also couldn’t manage any cooking more complicated than a salad for a long time. The feeling of being drained and defeated that you describe is always present, no matter what I am doing or how others may perceive my actions.
    We recently attended a family reunion and I think most people thought that I was fine. My big fake-out. However, a couple of people asked about my son and I was SO grateful for that. The others, I assume, were afraid to mention him. I wish they would have.
    Hang in there, you will gradually be able to do more.

  8. Pingback: 6 Things About My “New Normal” | The Infinite Fountain

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