The difference between depression and my grief

A history of depression runs in my family. I myself am familiar with depression, having had a few episodes in my life. This grief experience, so far feels very similar to a horrible depressive episode. The symptoms are very similar: deep sadness (obviously), lack of concentration (I totally zone out a LOT), fatigue and paradoxical bad insomnia (can’t shut my brain off at night!), inability to make simple decisions, a sensation of moving through molasses (so tiring), loss of interest in activities and people (nothing has meaning anymore), feelings of guilt, appetite change, and suicidal ideation (no worries, I’m not at risk for attempting suicide but I’ll admit I have moments of wishing I weren’t alive so I could be Charlie and not have to endure this pain).

But besides these similarities, there is a BIG difference. Every time I have felt depressed, I have been able to look forward to the future, knowing one day, the depression would lift and the world would be RIGHT again. This has always helped me through the darkness and has always held true in my experience. But now, I can’t have this hope. The world will NEVER be RIGHT again. It will always be WRONG. I will forever be living in a world where my baby died.

I guess, in order to continue my journey, I have to change my hope. If I can’t hope that the world will be RIGHT again, maybe I can believe that in spite of this, one day I will be ALRIGHT.

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Beginning the journey back to life after my son lost his

Hello. Less than three weeks ago, I lived a charmed life. I didn’t realize or fully appreciate how amazing my life was until it completely shattered. I had everything I thought I could ever want: an amazing husband, a great job as a psychologist, an awesome home, faith and joy in my religion, and most importantly, two beautiful, healthy, PERFECT, children: a daughter named Hailee, who turns 3 in June and a four month old son, Charles Preston Packard (Charlie). I had never felt so happy or complete in my life.

On April 10, 2012, my world went completely wrong when my “mister mister” died of SIDS during his afternoon nap, while we were on vacation in Hawaii. I think for mothers of young infants, SIDS is our worst nightmare. While the idea of SIDS strikes fear into our hearts, at the same time, we never think it will happen to us. SIDS is something that I heard about, feared, took measures to prevent, and believed would never have happened to MY BABY; my perfect, healthy, happy Charlie.

I think that naivete is psychologically protective. If we lived our lives always expecting the worst, we would never do anything, let alone risk bringing a new life into a world so full of pain and heartache. In my profession, I hear regular accounts of trauma, heartache, sorrow; of lives and worlds gone completely wrong. Through their stories, I have been touched and acquainted with grief. You’d think I’d have diminished ignorance that pain and suffering is no respecter of persons. Indeed, I was ignorant of my ignorance until I lost it.

My naivete shattered along with my heart, that day on April, 10, 2012. As it turned out, Charlie ended up being one of 2,500 infants who will die of SIDS this year in the US alone. What is hardest about Charlie’s death is the complete lack of explanation. SIDS by definition, is unexpected and sudden. The last thing he did before his last nap was smile his flirty smile at his Dadda as he swadded him.

Now I am faced with the task of reconciling myself to a world that doesn’t make sense, that isn’t fair, and is full of more pain and sorrow than I personally fathomed. I am forced to figure out how to live with a broken heart and broken dreams.

This blog is my journey of grieving the loss of my Charlie, trying to find meaning in life, and make meaning where none is found. I need this blog to be a place where I do my own therapy. For me to accomplish that, I vow to be honest and not sugar coat my experience. I know this journey will be the hardest of my life and I anticipate my climb up the mountain will be full of deep and dark ravines. But I am committed to the climb, because only through actively pursuing this journey back to life, can I honor my Charlie.

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