Grief Stricken: Dealing with the Aftermath of Trauma

“I heard a dog died here.”

A simple, innocent comment made by a child hit me like a ton of bricks.

We don’t talk about Eddie’s death. Quite frankly, the weight of grief and guilt has been unbearable; it is consuming. I have done my best to repress his memory in hopes of moving forward, but I feel myself breaking beneath what I have attempted to carry on my shoulders. The faintest recollection of his death drags me down into the depths of darkness. It has been suffocating.

Suffocating. There it is, a single word that brings me to tears.

I have casually mentioned Eddie’s death in passing, but again, we don’t talk about it. Friends and family know the excruciating details and while they’ve offered unwavering support, his name has slowly been disappearing from our conversations. I have attempted to throw myself into reading the Bible, praying, reaching out for God’s hand – anything in the privacy of my grief to cope. I simply cannot do it any longer. I cannot even bring myself to write it down here on a page with no one around. I cannot pretend that I am not haunted by the traumatic events of what happened.

The fact of the matter is that Eddie drowned and I hate myself for it. I hate thinking about it. I hate thinking about him. As I type, I feel the heaviness in my throat, in my eyes, and at the tips of my fingers. I am struggling. I have been struggling since it happened and have made an attempt at closing that part of myself off.

Over the weekend, I took a self-defense class. We kicked, hit, pushed, and somehow in the midst of it, I pushed myself over the edge. I wanted to throw myself completely in as my target stood in front of me. What made me angry? Eddie’s death. I thought about it, putting August 1, 2022 in the forefront of my mind. I remember every single detail of that day. I continued to hit with every bit of strength I had. By the end of the day, the side of my fist had turned a dark purple, my knuckles scrapped and scabbed. Rather ironically, a part of myself I attempted to hide was now evident on my hand.

I attend therapy, but haven’t been back since before Eddie died. I have wholeheartedly avoided the subject. I don’t want to sit in a closed off room, knowing that discussing it does nothing for me but bring back the empty memories of him and growing bitterness in my heart. I search for someone to scream at me, and yet I don’t want anyone to lash out. I feel I deserve it and yet cower away.

I failed him and for that, I will never forgive myself.

I know that forgiveness is needed and often enough, we look at forgiveness as something we give to others. God continually forgives us, remaining a beacon of light in the dark and isolated circumstances that we often find ourselves lost in.

Searching for verses on forgiveness, I came across the following:

“If we wrongly blame ourselves, we prolong our healing, for in so doing, we postpone having to grieve and forgive the choices of others. It’s terrifying to face our pain, and so it seems easier to take the blame for it. Compassion for self and self-forgiveness can result from clarifying responsibility for our pain.”

Seattle Christian Counseling

Is blaming myself prolonging my healing? It seems to be that way. Logically, I know that there was no indication for concern. Emotionally, I am not there. My brain and my heart are not in sync and it has resulted in wild disarray.

I do not have an issue with forgiving those who have wronged me. I do, however, struggle in extending that grace to myself. I’m an incredibly anxious person, overthinking and imagining situations in a million different ways. Throw in a traumatic event that may or may not have been avoidable and I’m unable to turn it off.

Finally, looking down at my healing bruises, I have realized that the only way out is to face it head on. I may have been praying about my grief, but the wounds are so much deeper. For now, I will be praying about my journey to healing and forgiving myself. This is part of my story now, the only thing I can do is embrace it for what it is.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

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