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April 22, 2020

The COVID-19 Trifecta: Grief, Isolation & Marital Struggles.

 

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Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon

 

It would seem, in this crazy world, I’ve hit the trifecta:

A grief that is all-consuming, an isolation that is deafening, and a marriage trying to survive all of this.

Just as I was starting to make progress in my grief journey over the loss of my precious son, David Lee Joseph, I was thrown the curveball that is COVID-19.

I had finally found the courage to go back to the school I teach at—to “face the world”—and then the rumors of schools not opening after Spring break started. I had two whole glorious weeks with my kids before the schools shut down indefinitely.

So, here I am bereaved and stuck in the only place where my memories and imagination can haunt me. I am literally stuck in the place where I was supposed to be creating memories with my son who was taken away. Instead, I’m stuck trying to distract myself from the pain, while working from home. I am down the hall from the room that he would be taking his afternoon naps in, but now it just houses all of his precious memorabilia. My “office” is my dining room table where I can see the journal full of letters I’ve written to him.

On top of all that, there is the deafening isolation. I went from having my house full of people—and by people I mean my mom, sister, and nephew—to an empty one. Before all this, if it wasn’t my mom over with my nephew, it was my sister. It was welcomed by chaos and noise to fill the void. They’ve had to start keeping their distance because my husband has returned to work, and we don’t want the risk of my nephew being exposed.

There is also the fact that my Sunday routine of visiting my son’s gravesite has been upended. It felt as if he had been taken from me yet again—yes, my anxiety has been sky high. When he was born, he was taken from me and placed directly in the NICU. Then, once he was in the NICU I couldn’t hold him for 11 days. Once I got to hold him, he was taken from me three days later—permanently. This feeling led to my middle of the night panic attack. A full-on wake my-self-up screaming panic attack.

Even after finding out that the cemetery has opened again, my feeling of anxiety hasn’t eased.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget my marriage. Besides COVID-19, we are navigating the tricky waters that are child loss. We are also struggling to communicate effectively in isolation. Our nightly routine does help ease the negativity, but it doesn’t help two people stuck in a place called home that is surrounded by what should be.

While he can calm my anxiety, he can also push my buttons. He is the yin to my yang—the calm to my crazy. Yet being stuck with him 24/7 has been a bit much during this time of crippling grief. You’d think that two people who are navigating their grief together would want to be together—it should be a blessing! Nope! It is a struggle not to snap at one another. We are opposites; he needs to tinker and I need to sit, be still, and focus on something. However, he’s gone back to work, so him coming home every day is now a welcome sight.

Honestly, there is much to be learned from my grief during this crazy time. Today, the grumpy, talkative, old man who I affectionately call my Grandpa told me, “sometimes trials and tribulations make the bonds of a good marriage stronger because what was meant to break two people actually ends up holding them together.”

“I love that you are my person and I am yours, that whatever door we come to, we will open it together.”~ a.r. asher 

~

Relephant:

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