Sometimes when we’re grieving it can make us feel this way. Over the years I have lost family and friends, some expected due to illness and some – including the most recent – very sudden and completely unexpected.
For me, I found that the expected deaths, although still incredibly painful were somehow a little easier for me to get my head around. Maybe because the question of why wasn’t booming so loudly in my head.
With the death of Prince Philip on 9th April, a week of mourning and the funeral on 17th April this is a subject which is going to be across the media for a few days and it may bring up memories that you would rather not have popping up in your mind. It may take you back to those moments where you heard about the death of someone important to you. It may take you back to the feelings you felt, when you felt as though you couldn’t cope. As though you were crazy.
When we experience trauma it is incredibly normal to relive some moments over and over, to see images every time we close our eyes and to have to avoid things which remind us of what happened.
If you feel that you need to avoid the media coverage of Prince Philip right now to stop you reliving that trauma then that is ok. We can’t always avoid things, but we can sometimes choose when to confront them and if you recognise that, right now, you do not feel able to face news stories about death, memories of a loved one and funeral coverage then that is taking care of you.
My last experience with death was in 2019. An immediate family member died very suddenly and I spent days between feeling like a crazy crying, screaming, snotty wreck to completely numb. There were certainly times when I felt as though I was crazy and also as though others in my life were and I was the only one holding onto any sense of normality. I am quite sure that others experienced this as well.
I spent several months initially avoiding anything hospital related, from Holly City (tv drama) to 24 hours in a&e (fly on the wall documentary) as it took me back to that day when our loved one died. I simply could not cope with watching those things, as it meant my mind was instantly replaying what happened and I was feeling all those feelings again. This even extended to watching films or tv dramas where a character was rushed to hospital or passed away, or where there was a special moment between characters and one of them was that role which our loved one had had in our family . And yes, I’ll say it again. I felt as though I was crazy.
Skip forward to today. I can occasionally watch hospital dramas and fly on the wall documentaries. Some days when I’m feeling down, I avoid them, because I am not emotionally strong enough right at that moment to watch something like that and not relive my own trauma. When someone dies in a film, I can go from finding it sad in a way I would have done a few years ago to needing a whole box of tissues. Because, again, I have not been in a strong position to not relate it to my own experiences and feelings.
Am I crazy? No. I am human and I am experiencing normal reactions and emotions. Do I sometimes feel as though I am crazy? Not anymore. Did I feel as though I was crazy in the past? Absolutely! When I couldn’t watch anything, hear anything, read anything remotely related to death I wondered if my life would ever be ‘normal’ again. When I struggled to get out of bed, when I started crying for what seemed like no reason, when I couldn’t find a way forward or any interest in anything then yes, I did feel as though I was crazy.
Do I feel that way now? No, I don’t and even though you may be reading this feeling that you are crazy I want to reassure you that what you are going through is normal, human reactions and that you will not be this way forever. Sometimes we just have to ride with it and let our body and mind do what it needs to do, to come out the other side.
You may feel as though you are crazy but I am here to say that no, I don’t think that you are!