The Pain by Gina Churchwell

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Sometimes I just sit. I stare blankly, focusing on nothing. I’m quiet and still. The pain is so oppressive it sits on me and in me and I can do nothing but sit with it. I forget to breathe sometimes, so I manage to think…”inhale, exhale…inhale, exhale”…also “blink, Gina, remember to blink.” My eyes are so damned dry anyway, thanks to the anti-depressants I take. 
There are so many different types of pain and different levels of pain. This pain is unbearable and incompatible with life, but it’s there. At least I have reached the point that I am pretty sure these moments will pass. I would rather be sobbing, screaming, curled up in a fetal position. Crying, for me, is so cathartic. These times are different, I am paralyzed with the pain…hence the reminders, “inhale, exhale, blink.” This pain is a thing, more than just an emotion, it’s a thing. It exists and must be carried. My daughter carried it a long time. But in her death her pain was not obliterated, it was passed on to me. If I chose to escape the pain by ending my life, it would attach itself to the people who love me the most. It would break them, as it has broken me. I don’t think she understood that, and I don’t think she was thinking about me when she did it. But I know. I can’t un-know.
People lose their patience with me. People have lost their patience with me. Not just those who don’t understand. Other grieving moms too…”Why is she still struggling so?” I know they are dealing with their own demons. I strive to give them the patience they deny me, because just as they do not understand me, I do not understand them  
I don’t know what is happening to me. I don’t know why I’m not progressing, it’s not my choice. I’m not defiantly suffering. Time is supposed to soften the burden, but for me, the more time that passes is simply more time since I last spoke to her. More time since Before, more time After. Those wonderful tricks that our minds play on us, like the fog, are gone. The death of my child was not just an event that happened in my life, the death of my child is woven into my life. Others can move on, forget, or even not care, but there is no escape for me, it’s a part of me, a huge, oppressive, overbearing aspect of my actual person.
So, would I give up the pain, if it were possible? Not even for a second. The pain exists because I had a child, and I lost her. The pain exists because I had the greatest love in the world…had. I will bear it, I will sit with it, I will feel it, and I will love it. There is no way to separate my love and my pain. And it is all worth it, it’s worth all the suffering I endure and will continue to endure…because I had her! For 22 1/2 years I had her! I had the most beautiful, the most magnificent child there ever was, and it was bliss. Utter, infinite bliss.

19 Responses

  1. Brenda
    | Reply

    I too am in this zombie state, even with people I love and while smiling, inside I just am in a pain that is indescribable. I lost my son, Jared, he was 25 and it is more than 4 and half years. My heart hurts all the time and I too wish I could have a major breakdown kicking and screaming, but that doesn’t come. So I sit, in a daze. Day after day.

    • Gina Churchwell
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      Brenda…my Girl was 22…forever 22. As I said in the blog, crying is cathartic for me. I always feel better after a breakdown, as if I have purged some of the pain, for a while anyway. Sometimes I need a little help getting it out. For me, music works…I will go to YouTube and look up certain songs and before long the tears are flowing and once they start, they don’t stop until I have gotten them all out, again, for a little while. I hope you can find a way to get some relief.

  2. Lynne
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    I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a child, especially this way. I lost my mother this way and have facilitated a support group for other survivors for the past 15 years. I’ve had parents come through the group and have seen them improve with time so I know it’s possible. Sharing their stories and feelings associated with the loss over and over with others who understand helps them get through it, never over it. For those who read this, is where you can find a support group in your area. International Survivors Day is always the Saturday before Thanksgiving. You can find a location for that too at in your area. It’s a safe place with other survivors with a great film each year showing survivors in their journeys through this. There is also sharing. To the author of this piece, thank you for sharing your beautifully written tribute to your amazing daughter. I hope you find peace some day.

  3. Renée Appolon
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    I can relate to every single word you have written. I lost my son on Aug 29th 2017. I’ve lost loved one before, but losing my son… it’s a pain that cannot be described or measured and it’s seems as if no one around me; my other children, my husband, my siblings, understands why I’m still “here”. Lingering, dwelling, holding-on etc etc… and I pray that they never understand. My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family. Your words made me realize that there’s someone out there who truly understands me, who truly understand why I now carry around this heavy pulsating hum that lives in my head and vibrates all day, EVERYDAY forcing me to listen to it. Now I don’t feel quite so misunderstood and alone anymore. Thank you for sharing.

    • Gina Churchwell
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      Thank You…Renee Appolon, that you related to my words, that you feel understood, that you know you are not alone, is a gift to me.

  4. Mary Shemroske
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    For such a sad loss … I must say you wrote this beautifully…. defiantly from your heart. I lost my granddaughter- a pain I carry daily and like you say… I would never want it to stop because I love her so much she is worth my daily suffering. What hurts me just as badly is her mother is my daughter …. she carries all the feelings you describe ALWAYS ..just as you do. I lost BOTH my girls that very sad day … my daughter will never be the same – she is broken just like my heart is for her… a sad thing in both scenarios for any mother to live the rest of her life💔

  5. Jill Brown
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    Hearing these words from you…. while awful, they are such a huge relief to hear. They are so horribly similar to my own. It will be four years in January that I lost my older son. His suicide destroyed myself and my younger son… our family died with him. It’s just the two of us and while we remain incredibly close and I love him more than words, it is so hard for us to be together– we do better with texts and Snapchats because together, Logan’s absence is as much THERE as his presence was. Most everyone else has left; I haven’t “gotten better” fast enough… even my mother sends me quotes and texts about not living in the past and it just infuriates me. Those still “close” to us get angry and/or frustrated because we don’t feel like celebrating– birthdays, holidays, anything. We spend that time with each other but in our own way. You see, two years before Logan took his life, I almost lost my younger son in a car accident. He spent months in the hospital and rehab facility recovering from a traumatic brain injury. We didn’t know for a long time if he would live, let alone ever walk again, talk again, be able to feed himself, or just BE himself. My older son and I were as one in our goal to bring him back. And miraculously, he is. But then I lost my older son. How does God let that happen? And how do the people closest to us not see? Time is not helping, not really. Sure, I don’t have as many of those fetal positions screaming on the floor, but the pain is ALWAYS there. It’s chronic instead of acute all the time, but the acute moments still come. His absence is everywhere, in everything. I have good moments, but they never last. My body reminds me in numerous ways that I am in mourning. And what constantly astounds me is people acting as if all I need to do is flip a switch in my brain and I’ll be “better”. How can they not get that you can’t “fix” this? And that breaks my heart all over again.
    Thank you for sharing. I wish you well on this Sisyphian journey. And more pockets of relief…

    • Gina
      | Reply

      Jill…My mother did the same thing to me. Entirely too soon afterwards she starting posting religious pages to my Facebook page…:Let go and let God… It has gotten worse, now we actually don’t speak. She wants me to be who I was Before…but that person died with my child. There is no “moving on”, and the fact that not only is she a mother, but my mother, and can’t understand that has become unbearable to me. She has always been very immature and selfish, I am suspecting some sort of dementia is setting in and it is making her mean. The first few months when I would write about Cassi she would always respond with a comment about how painful it was to have lost “our” girl, though they were not close. I couldn’t say anything without her making it about her. Now, my sadness, which is a part of who I am, is a drag. So I have had to cut off contact. I have been hurt enough.

  6. Gina Churchwell
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    Thank you. Renee Appolon, the fact that my words made you feel understood and not so alone is a gift to me.

  7. Carolyn
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    Gina, you have eloquently and raw-ly described this journey we jointly share. You are doing well expressing yourself. When you express this grief to others, it so much helps those who cannot put into words their grief. Thank you.

  8. Marcia Taylor
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    I feel your pain! We lost our beloved grandson on February 28, 2017, to suicide. The heart wrenching agony never stops. Thank you so much for sharing. Somehow it helps to know we aren’t alone.

  9. Yolanda DUGAN
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    Its been that way for me too. I am still having those thoughts of seeing her broken body and what my daughter’s last thoughts were and did she suffer for a long time or what. I have too many days of feeling lost and confused over this. I just can’t escape it.

  10. Connie Bevill
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    Gina, this is absolutely beautiful! Just gut-wrenching!
    The death of your child is unimaginable and life changing! How well I know this!
    God bless you!

  11. Barb Ryan
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    I wish I had different words to write, but I don’t. I feel all your pain, sadness, this does not go away. Everyday it haunts me. I also lost my grandson to sucide, 7/25/17. I never realized his fears were so servere, never thought he would harm himself, there was alot of things he couldn’t do for a boy of 21, alot he didn’t do right or didn’t know how to. He grew up without his dad. He was pretty awesome, he wasn’t your average boy. So how did he succeed in doing this? I loved that boy with all of me.
    I also feel like i lost my daughter that day too. She is very distant to us, not sure why, but i think because we are so hearbroken, but this is the price you pay for loving someone. I only wish she would understand.
    This is a different kind of grief, never have i experienced , this kind before.
    Hopefully for all of us, this gets a little easier.
    Everyone of us have a story, thanks for sharing.
    Forever 21..

  12. Sherry
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    Gina, I feel the same way. I understand this pain and love. I feel lucky to have had 25 years with my daughter, but it was still not enough. It is hard to breathe and believe that she is not here. I’m still in shock after 14 months. Thanks for sharing with all of us. All we can do is try to get up everyday and keep our girls memories alive

  13. Jennifer
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    This is 100% the state I am in now. My son lost his battle with mental illness on Jan 17/17, and I find myself numb and in a daze often. I cry a lot, in hiding, cuz I have a younger daughter whom I’d like to protect as much as possible, but mostly in a daze. Your words spoke straight to my broken heart, Thank you.

  14. Bonnie
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    Crying is cathartic for me too. Mike died in January 2016. I am past the howling stage (mostly) which is good because it even scares me. But when I cry I know I will feel better and it won’t last. I agree with your sentiments. I am able to hold off the agony of his loss better than I used to, but I know it’s there, lurking. I know I will never lose that pain and sadness, but I wouldn’t have missed being Mike’s Momma for anything.

  15. Julie Harris
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    My heart hurts for you Gina. It would truly be THE WORST PAIN EVER and I pray I never experience it.

  16. Ruth ward
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    In 11 long years, every morning my precious son Nathan is the first one I think of when my eyes open. The pain of losing him is always with me. He fought his demons for 21 yrs and 37 days and lost his battle on Nov. 6th from mental illness. My life is forever changed as his mama….Although I would never take my own life, I don’t fear death anymore bcuz my heartache will be done with

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