Grief, Loss and Trauma? Trauma? We haven't gone through trauma... yes, we lost our child, but there was no trauma. Right?! Maybe? OH I don't know... Nate and I were fortunate to have an opportunity to sit through a group yesterday with other bereaved parents and psychologist, Linda Lehmann. Linda talked to us about the very real effects of psychological trauma and how she believes loosing a child in such an unexpected manner creates emotions and reactions that are often associated with trauma and sometimes PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). She talked about how we all, until the day we learned differently, expected to be parents of our children until we died. She explained that living through the experience of first finding out something was wrong, to the moment our child passed away was a traumatic event.... meaning not only are we grieving but we are dealing with the side effects of trauma. Both Nate and I laid in bed last night and talked about that... the word 'trauma' was not something we associated with our situation... it is something we think about more with soldiers and people who have lived through some sort of catastrophe.... but not with our situation... yet, the more Linda talked about trauma, the more we realized the day Declan died was a catastrophe to us... it was a traumatic event that truly has changed our lives forever. She also talked about how people who have experienced trauma often re-expereince that trauma on a daily basis... alone and in our own heads. People have who haven't lost a child typically can't understand this and can't relate. For me personally, I learned my reactions to the trauma of losing Dex has left me in a state of increased arousal... which for me is displayed by having a hard time staying a sleep, being real jumpy, being short fused, an inability to recall certain parts of the day Declan died, and most noticeably my inability to concentrate... which finally makes me realize that I am not going crazy and I am fairly normal (relatively speaking) in my grieving process. She talked about the importance of understanding and being ok with our styles of grieving. So yeah, we've experienced trauma and even how our trauma is effecting us and now all we can do is figure out how to live with it and heal from that too.
We have been spending this past week at Faith's Lodge in northern WI... a resort for families with terminally ill or deceased children. There are 5 other families here who have lost their precious little one(s). It has been a wonderful week, full of healing, crying and bonding with others who actually know what we have been through. I am sad that tomorrow is the end of this part of our journey, but know that we will forever be friends with the families we have met and we will forever be part of the Faith's Lodge family. Both Nate and I know we will be back and have already started talking about ways we can volunteer to help here. It is truly a place where HOPE GROWS!