For the past four and a half years, I’ve been grieving the loss of my wife, my soulmate.
Miriam Braunstein died sometime in the early morning of September 17, 2011, a Saturday.
There were times when the grief was not so bad, and there were times when it was terrible indeed. I have see-sawed from functional and generally okay, to total breakdown and wishing for death.
For the first four years, I went to a therapy group, offered by William Beaumont Hospital’s hospice program. This is ironic in many ways, mostly in that William Beaumont Hospital does not truly care for it’s patients, but exploits them for the ability to bill insurance companies, and keep expanding their empire. This under the aegis of being a non-profit hospital.
When I self-diagnosed myself with having “complicated grief” (a diagnosis that has little support in the medical community), I was advised by the group therapist to start seeing a one-on-one therapist right away, and to transition away from the therapy group.
I thought this was a little abrupt, until I learned that the therapy group was going to start turning away those who had been in the program for more than one year. One more example of Beaumont’s uncaring nature.
I did make arrangements to see a grief therapist, and I got lucky, because I got a very good one the first time out of the box. Contact me if you need her name and number.
We went through my problems, where I was at that time, the emotional teeter-totter that was leading me to a sense of despair. When, I asked her, would I be happy again? When would I be able to deal productively with the pain from Miriam’s death?
It was a loaded question, and I didn’t know how complicated it was. I told her my stories, of hospital abuse, horrible malpractice that was covered up, the mistakes made by so-called medical professionals. Of the guilt that followed me around, dragged at my soul like an anchor.
I told her that there were good times too, that I had many positive memories of being with Miriam, but the traumatic and negative memories kept forcing themselves to the forefront of my mind. That they would come to me as I lay down to sleep, when I was alone in my car, or sitting at my desk at my workplace.
She sympathized, and slowly guided me through the telling of these negative memories, and negative memories from earlier in my life, dealing with my abusive father. We took each memory and examined it, and she would ask me how I felt about this memory now, years later.
And slowly, I began to see where my problems lay.
They are big problems, of low self-esteem, even self-hatred. Obsession with guilt over perceived failures in my care of Miriam. Deep seated longing for something I can never have again, the physical company of my beloved. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from the many, many times emergencies struck that had to be acted upon correctly, instantly.
But together, the therapist and I are working on these issues.
And I see progress. I still cry in the night. I still have nightmares. But my most recent nightmare had explanations, and signs that my subconscious was beginning to understand reality.
I dreamt that I was outside a hospital procedure room, That there were two patients in the room, Miriam and one other. There was a pane of glass between me and the inhabitants of the room. There were also two medical personnel in the room, but I can’t remember their faces. I could see that Miriam was in distress, that she was dying. The medical personnel were doing nothing to prevent this. I could not communicate with those in the procedure room, the glass kept my cries from being heard.
I remember this dream vividly, and it brings to mind two things, one healthy, one somewhat ambivalent.
Firstly, my subconscious is starting to realize that there was nothing I could do to prevent Miriam’s death. My inability to communicate with Miriam and the medicos was indicative of the fact that Miriam’s death was completely out of my control, and that I did not have a chance to discuss Miriam’s status with her, due to her being asleep 23 hours out of 24 for the last weeks of her life.
The other implication was that the Medical personnel at Beaumont turned away from Miriam the closer she got to death. This is true, except for one nurse, who I will mention by name: Marla. Thank you, Marla, for not turning away, and being willing to look death in the eye. But she couldn’t care for Miriam all the time, and the others that came into her room did nothing for her, and looked at me as if I had no right to be there, with my wife, as she was dying. Not that I accepted that fact. I was in deep denial. In my head, we were simply in hospice so she could go home, and be where she wanted to be.
All this, from one nightmare.
I feel hopeful now. I have goals, both long-term, and short-term, and I will work towards those goals. Whether or not I succeed, I will also be working to pull myself out of the hole of depression and uselessness I have been in since Miriam’s death.
I will never forget her. I will never completely stop grieving. But i will fill the void in my life left by her death with new memories, new achievements.
I will grow again.
I wish, for anyone reading this, that grief touches you only lightly, for it can be a terrible thing.