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Does Grief Cause Anxiety? Apparently It Does for Me, & Here's What It Feels Like



*This post is just my personal experience and not meant to be professional advice.  This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a commission at no cost to you if you click a link and make a purchase.

It's Been 8 Months

It's been 8 months since the dreaded, unthinkable happened. My precious mother was diagnosed with a rare cancer and died within months of finding out.


She was only 50. She was the sunshine to me, my husband and my children. She made everything special, she made everyone happy... she brought joy to any and everything.

I thought I would have my mom until she was like, I don't know... 90? This just isn't something I ever prepared for. She never had any health issues. She was the happiest, most vibrant person I knew. We joked about how one day she would move in with me when she was old, because I wouldn't be allowed to put her in a nursing home.


She was always smiling, always laughing and joking about something. Then bam, out of no where... cancer and she's gone. Most days, it still doesn't feel real.


I Went Through the Stages of Grief

For me, grief comes in waves. I still, 8 months later, catch myself waiting for her to call or text, only to stop myself. I go to pick up the phone to call her, only to stop. I picture her sweet face, and feel my heart sink. The more time that goes by, the sadder it feels because that's the longer amount of time she's been gone.


Shock

When it first happened, I was in major shock and denial. I told myself this would be fine, I would be fine. It was like, it wasn't real. I remember just talking out loud and feeling like she was still in the room with me. I said, "ok... this will be easy! You're still around mom, I know you are... things won't change... we still have the same relationship, I just can't see you or hear you... but you can see and hear me, so it's all good!"


Wow, I truly can't believe I had such a positive outlook on it. That didn't last long. I had multiple, screaming-and-kicking meltdowns that my husband had to carry me through after that.


The Pain & Guilt Set In

Then the pain set in, and the guilt. I still have guilt hit me at times. Memories will come up of things that I wish I would've did differently, like helped more around the house when I lived at home or offered to clean up after dinner when she had me over. That woman did so much for our family, she was the GLUE that held everyone and EVERYTHING together, and no one truly appreciated her. Now that she's gone, we're all like fish out of water and it hurts. The pain is unreal sometimes.


The holidays about killed me. Her birthday, well that was devastating. The guilt for so many things, is very real.


Anger

Then, the anger set in. Why did she have to leave me? Why would God take her from me? I found myself extremely upset with God for a while, I even lost my faith. I'm sad to admit that, but it's just what happened.


I was angry that I didn't do more to try to save her, that I didn't find a better Doctor. I was angry that I didn't take it more serious, and spend every minute with her before she left. I was angry that I didn't help her more through the entire process of dying. I guess, I just didn't want to admit what was happening to "my person." I was angry I didn't take a million photos and videos of her when she was still doing well.


Then, the depression hit.

WHAM. That's rough. I couldn't get out of bed, and when I did... I didn't do anything. Getting through work was tough and I didn't take on anything new for months. I struggled financially because of this, and so did my business. My kids needed me and I was just a big ball of depression. I was trying so hard, but just kept barely getting through the days. I had zero, and I mean ZERO motivation to do anything.


The house became a ridiculous pig-sty and cooking became a thing of the past. We ate out every night. Oh, and what's lunch? Never heard of that. Breakfast was coffee.


Thank God the depression only lasted a few months and I was able to find some natural supplements that really helped me pull through that.


It's been 8 months and I still have waves of guilt, anger, shock and depression that will hit me at random times. I push through them a little better than the last time.


I will write texts or emails to her. I also like to pour coffee and go outside and sit in the grass and talk to her. I know she hears me. I can push through those things.


Most Recently, Anxiety Has Hit Me & I Struggle to Push Through It

So, the whole point of this post is to talk about the anxiety that has been smacking me right in the face. You see, the past 3 weeks, I was feeling so much better. I had motivation again, and when the sadness would come up I was able to work through it. I had hope for my future.


But then, I had such a bad feeling of dread that was just consuming my mind almost 24/7. What was this terrible, anxiety? I constantly felt like something BAD was going to happen, but I didn't know what.


Grief: it's a bitch and does a lot to a person. I'm learning this.


I would randomly think about things that happened in the past, I'm talking mistakes I made years and years ago... and I would think they were going to come back and rear their ugly heads in my future. I feared someone from 10 years ago would remember that embarrassing thing I did, and would think I was the biggest loser to exist. Or, what if this or that happened in the past and I just never knew about it and someone is going to eventually tell me about this horrible thing that everyone has kept from me for years? Wait, what? (Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?!) I can't explain it guys, it's just what I felt.


Then, I would think about the future, oh look out. I would think about all these bad things that might happen. It literally was CONSUMING me. What if I die next? What will my kids do without me? What if something happens to my kids? What if they aren't safe at school? Should I homeschool? My husband, oh my God... he can't leave the house! When I got a phone call, I expected the worst... like I would answer and be scared to hear if the person on the other line had an upset tone to their voice because that would mean bad news. That constant "what ifs" were driving me batty.


The anxiety was absolutely the worst I've ever experienced in my life. I was scared to check my email, my mail or my voicemails. Why? Because hello, there might be something BAD in them!


My chest would pound, I felt like I couldn't breathe. I literally felt as though there was a dark rain cloud over my head and I couldn't stand the feeling. Something horrible was going to happen to me. Was it my intuition? Was God trying to warn me with this feeling I was getting? Was he trying to prepare me for something bad about to happen? Oh my gosh, this MUST be a sign, a warning of some kind! Cue panic.


Then, I started realizing it was the grief pulling out this anxiety in me.

I had been through so much in the last year, I went through a shocking and devastating experience. I went through so many stressful situations. I would dread hearing what the Doctors had to say, then I watched my beautiful mother die and take her last breathe as cancer took her away.


My body was trying to process all of this grief, and I was still trying to move forward in life the best I could as if everything was still normal. My body couldn't keep up.


As if all of the other emotions weren't overwhelming enough, now anxiety was being pulled to the surface.


Yep, it was just time for the stage of anxiety.

It was rough but once I realized this, I started to calm down. I understood this was just part of the process and no, nothing was wrong with me. I started to lean into God more. I even purchased some books that really helped. I made it a mission to start getting healthy because my body was begging me to. Perhaps if I worked on my health, some of the anxiety would start to lift.


I started taking probiotics because I read some incredible things about their relationship with anxiety. Needless to say, I started feeling better within literally two days. I learned that not only did they help me with the anxiety, but they had a boat load of other amazing health benefits for your gut. When our gut isn't healthy, it can cause a lot of other problems in our body. I felt it was a great place to start, to work on my gut health and so far so good.


I then started diving into self care and writing a list of things that made me happy... and worked to make sure I did those things each week. I made plans with the kids and stuck to them, like movie night, game night, putt-putt, etc. They lost a loved one too, and they're just kids... they need help too and I'm the person responsible for that.


If you're feeling extreme and intense anxiety after the death of a loved one, I think it's a part of the grieving process they don't talk about or include in all those pamphlets. I highly recommend talk to your Doctor or therapist.


How I'm Getting Through the Anxiety

I have started taking probiotics which have helped TREMENDOUSLY. When I started taking them, I literally felt like a new person just after a few days. You just have to make sure you get a good high quality one, otherwise you're wasting your time.


I do things that make me happy. Writing helps me. Talking out loud helps me.


When I start to feel the anxiety come on, or intrusive thinking... I will ask myself "what is harming me right now?" The answer is usually, nothing! Not one thing. I have to pull myself to the current moment and remind myself to LIVE IN THE PRESENT. I was living in the past and the future and that's always bound to cause anxiety anyway. The present is all we have anyway. The past is over, the future isn't here yet either.


Losing a loved one is hard, and I mean HARD.

But, you know they're still watching us every day and want us to be doing our very damn best in this world. Live like they're watching, because they are.


There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of my beautiful mom, and beautiful she is. I love her so much and I know that I am growing through this. This is one experience that I don't wish for anyone to have to go through, but... it's inevitable and will happen to people. When it does, I'm here to support you.


You know, my sister just found out she's pregnant. She's been so upset at the thought of going through pregnancy and labor without our mom. That's going to be another very difficult experience.


If you're struggling, feel free to send me a message by clicking my contact button and I'll talk it out with you. This is all going to be a process, but you will get through it... even if it feels like you never will. Somedays, I can't believe this is my life... that I'm part of this "club" of motherless daughters at such a young age, but here I am... and I will get through it just like you will.


Sending Love,

Steph



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Disclaimer

This post is my experience only and not meant to be professional or medical advice of any kind. I am not a Doctor or professional. This post is for entertainment and educational purposes only. You should always consult your Doctor before you do anything. This post contains affiliate links.