I entered 2020, with an almighty bump, in-spite of the promises that I had made to myself, to God and to Josh in my prayers, which was to hit the ground running from day one, I face planted. I had made a deal that I would keep fighting injustices and work hard to make positive changes amongst other things, while they continue to guide me. Well, for one, God works in mysterious ways, and while my long to-do-list and New Year’s resolutions were ready and waiting, he had other plans. I had a tough time over Christmas, but I have finally accepted that I have to be kinder to myself and allow myself to recover from the massive bouts of PTSD and complicated grief ‘waves’ that hit me hard. I didn’t see them coming, I never do and just like the silent waves in the sea, that creep up on you with no warning, they took my breath away. When they arrive, they overwhelm and drain me, rendering me catatonic and it takes a while for them to subside generally lasting for several days or at worse sometimes weeks. This time was a wake-up call for me, and I learned a valuable lesson which was to take a step back, reflect and repair.
My attitude has always been to get up, get out and get on with it because for me every day has the potential to offer up a new life lesson, a unique experience or a small miracle especially when you take the time to notice everything around you. So, when these ‘waves’ which are like giants towering above me, encompassing my mind body and soul shut me down, I become frustrated and impatient. Days like these affect everything in my life, but more importantly, they make me feel vulnerable because if I have learnt anything the past four years and three months since Josh’s death, it is that the waves of PTSD and complicated grief are mine alone. They are invisible one can see my pain, or recognise the depths that it goes to and which I can only best describe as a dark hole leaving no space for light. No one can take away the pain that I feel, the flashbacks or the painful emotions of the loss of my Son. I know that I must accept these days because it is part of my grieving process, and it is also part of having to admit that Josh is never coming home. The hardest part is having to live with what Josh experienced and how it must have felt for him.
After the ‘waves’ and the dark days pass and I feel ready to go again, I start off having to get over the guilt of having missed precious days and of not being able to keep my promise to get things done when I said that I would. Every hour lost to these ‘waves’ is an hour that I am not living my best life for Josh, and I end up in a furious panic to start ticking things off my to-do-list so that I am back on track. Feeling exhausted but stepping back and repairing, I have experienced several new life lessons and experiences these past 11 days. I have learnt that we are pretty much the same when faced with a new year, most of us find it a challenge to live in this very frantic and unpredictable world and that we all have some form of mental health challenges that we either chose to talk about or keep to ourselves. Most of us are afraid to be judged, sidestepped or even seen as weak when we speak about our challenges but above all most of us are just trying to hold on to what little we have for fear of losing it or getting taken away from us.
I walk a lot to help me to clear my mind and nature keeps me rooted. And it is nothing short of a miracle that we have such beauty around us considering the pressure that we are putting the planet under when all it asks of us is respect. I look at the beautiful sky while thinking about Josh, and I see the most beautiful of visions among the clouds. I hear the birds singing, and I smell the fresh air which reminds me that I am alive and that I have the luxury of another day. However, every day I feel guilty that I get to experience such beauty when Josh cannot do the same and so much more besides, and my pain is indescribable.
I know that I have a lot more work to do to help make more positive changes in this world, and I know that Josh is guiding me. Victims continue to be failed and let down due to a lack of resources. Our system is broken; it is a system where decisions about our human rights are held in the hands of a small group of professionals, politicians and government agencies. We are not being listened to or supported enough, so I will continue to do all that I can to push for positive change. We need to fight for victims, especially those lost in the system, from the disadvantaged to those who experience injustices. I will encourage the existing service providers to continually review their services by sharing my lived experiences to help ensure that victims are treated with respect and have a much better chance of coping and recovering. I will share how my loss and the failings in the system have and continue to affect me and add to my trauma recovery in the hope that it encourages others to speak out, and that they too demand change and not suffer in silence or be silenced.
Grief has no cure, and it never leaves, it will stay with you forever because it is love with nowhere to go and right now it is also my motivation to do all that I can to be the very best that I can be.
With love always, Tracey, Brooke and Josh 💙🙏🏻 #victimfocused #mentalhealthawareness #grieving