I’ll write lots about how profound grief feels emotionally in the not too distant future, but today I wanted to talk about the physical aspects of grief. About the way that our bodies change, inside and out, in every way. I now look very different to how I did before Rich fell ill. I don’t care about image, neither of us ever did, or ever will, but I know that I look haggard and drawn, not least because I’ve lost two and a half stones in weight. As my sister Amanda said recently, I’ve lost half my arse. I certainly didn’t want to lose the weight – I was very happy with my body as it was, but my appetite disappeared the day Rich had the seizure and cardiac arrest, and it’s yet to return. I eat now because I know that I must, and because friends have pleaded with me to. But as the kitchen was somewhere that Rich and I loved to spend time, preparing delicious meals for each other, going back there for too long causes distress. So it’s one pot meals, or quick salads at best, or on the days when I just can’t, it’s a frozen meal.
The palpitations and shakes too, are something you quickly get used to. For the first three months I’d shake so violently in the morning, that I knew it was safest just to lie in bed until it subsided. I shake less now, but at that moment when if I’ve slept, I wake up and remember that Rich isn’t here, the palpitations start. Again they’re not as severe as they were, but they happen. Before anyone asks, yes I’ve seen my GP, and no he’s not worried. This is what happens when you lose the person you loved, and who loved you, more than anyone else in the world.
Dry heaving? Retching? Yep they still happen too. Cleaning my teeth becomes a battle of wills, so I’ve been using lots of Rich’s favourite mouth wash to try and at least keep my breath from becoming too stinky. Fortunately I wasn’t eating enough to actually be sick in the first few months, but it came close. And now I make sure to have a bottle of water with me at all times as that can help with the retching. Since I have no pride, if it happens when I’m out in public I just find a quiet pleace to breathe through it, but given that I pretty much only go out at night when I’m home, it matters less.
In terms of pain levels, the constant anguish feels like an all over toothache, inside and out. I’ve stopped being able to differentiate between different parts of my body, and have felt like I’m living outside of it since that day, looking down on everyone else going about their normal. Partly this is still shock, I know that, as layers of the onion reveal themselves every few week, and partly it’s to continue protecting ourselves from feeling additional pain, when our minds can only cope with so much at any one time.
How about you my fellow grief warriors – how has profound grief affected you physically?