Tag Archives: Grief

Stray Dogs – Part 3

Her mother called a few days later, asking for help with cleaning out the house. Too big of a job to do with only one hand, she said. Andrea almost refused.

Andrea sat silently in the driveway for a long moment, before finally going inside. Her mother greeted her at the door, hugged her, and then immediately began giving her instructions on what needed to be done around the house.

“You’ve been so much help since I hurt my arm, Andy.” Her mother said as she pulled a box of junk of one of the shelves, “Don’t know how to thank you.”

“Could you give me an honest answer about something? If so, I’d call it even.”

“…Of course.”

“Why’d you tell me that Paul wasn’t my father? Better yet, why’d you tell him?” Katherine seemed caught off guard, like she’d expected Andrea to say something else. Anything else.

“I-I couldn’t live with that sin anymore, you have to understand. I had to tell the truth. They put Paul on that transplant list and I realized I wouldn’t have forever…”

Well, Now I’ve got to live with it too. Andrea wanted to say, but didn’t. She didn’t say anything at all. She had to live with a lot of things these days.

“I always told myself I was going to wait until you moved out, so he wouldn’t try to take it out on you too.” Somehow, that made it worse. “But then he got sick, and somebody had to take care of him… I never wanted to drag you back into the mess I made.” As far as Andrea could tell, that was what her mother had done since the moment she was born, and yet she couldn’t shake the urge to protect her.

“It’s…fine, mom. Don’t worry about it.”

Photo from BHG.com

After what felt like an eternity, they worked their way into the kitchen. Andrea was wiping down the counters, when she heard her mother make a tiny sound of confusion behind her, as she riffled through the cabinet below the sink. When Andrea turned around, her mother had a bottle of anti-freeze in her hands. The bottle of anti-freeze.

Andrea couldn’t breath. Her blood ran cold.

“What’s this doing here?” she asked, “Andrea, do you know why this is in here? The last time I checked it wasn’t- Are you alright?”

“I-I, uh, Paul asked me to bring it in from the garage. When I was taking care of him.”

“Why would he do that?”

“He, uh, said something about getting rid of a stray dog.”

Her mother stares at her for a moment, “Right. That… sounds like him. Well. Take it back out there when you get a chance, I don’t want it in here around the food.” she said, brushing past Andrea on her way out of the kitchen.

“Where are you going?”

“Sorry, honey. I think I just need to lie down.”

Now that she was alone, Andrea leaned heavy onto the counter she’d been cleaning, her shoulders shaking with silent sobs.

End. 

The broken heart syndrome phenomenon

According to Time magazine, an immense amount of research has shown that a death or the loss of a person close to you can not only break your heart metaphorically, but it can also cause physical damage that can lead to serious heart problems.

A new study published by Dr. Simon Graff finds that people who experience a partner dying are a much higher risk for atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, and the effects are life-long.

Having a broken heart is more than just a metaphor. Graphic from Pinterest
Having a broken heart is more than just a metaphor. Graphic from Pinterest

For many years, researchers have studied the phenomena of the broken heart syndrome, or stress cardiomyopathy. This occurs when a highly stressful event, such as the death of a spouse, results in a person feeling like they’re having a heart attack. The symptoms include the same ones that occur when having a heart attack: shortness of breath and chest pain.

When an emotional event happens, researches suspect a surge of stress hormones are released which cause this feeling of having a heart attack.

Researchers looked at citizens in Denmark who were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Out of the 88, 600 people, 41 percent of them who lost a partner were more likely to develop atrial fibrillation within the first month of their partner’s death compared to those who hadn’t lost anyone. The researchers also discovered that the risk is higher in younger people, especially when a partner as died suddenly or unexpectedly.

A cardiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, Harmony Reynolds, states that “We can’t stop stressful situations from coming up in our lives but there may be ways to change the way stress affects our bodies.” She says regular exercise, things like yoga, meditation, and even deep breathing can increase the parasympathetic nervous system which increase our body’s ability to handle stress. However, these activities won’t be able to reduce the risk completely.

This study, as large and somewhat thorough as it is, can’t completely confirm that the feelings of grief or loss are directly related to atrial fibrillation. “Right now our work can only point to an association, but we hope to help make a shift in society’s mindset—that a time of grief is not only a mental state but maybe also physical,” says Graff, the author of the study.

Firefly

This summer I saw a firefly.
It hit my windshield going ninety.
I recognized it only by its glow.
As I watched that light,
surprisingly bright on impact,
slowly fade to a dull smear,
I remembered death.
I remembered Clara.
I remembered an uncle.
I remembered fur-babies and friendships.
Grief seems to be a forced emotion.
Dramatic feelings painted on the body like a costume.
When the lights go down,
can you see my heart break?
Is it enough to prove I loved you fully?
For an eyes-off-the-road moment,
I recoiled,
aghast at my poetic mistake.

firefly
“When the lights go down can you see my heart break?”

There’s no pill for grief

Most people at some point in their lives lost someone they love. Whether it be a family member, friend or pet, the loss of a loved one can be devastating. We go through the stages of grief in our own ways, and some have a harder time dealing with loss than others. Different deaths will affect us in various ways; a loss of a second cousin won’t generally compare with the loss of a spouse. Bereavement is entirely personal and, unless the individual means harm to themselves or others, the process should be largely respected. Continue reading There’s no pill for grief