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Midnight Mayhem

It’s the middle of the night. The house is dark and quiet. It’s happened before. The memories of the death come creeping in. You relive the moments of the death, you relive how you were told, and you relive all the moments surrounding the death. It starts with one small thought. This thought leads to another, then another, then another. Before long you are wide awake, heart racing and tears saturating your pillow.

After my twins were stillborn, every night I woke up from a sound sleep, thinking about the wee hours of the morning of December 31st. I replayed every minute surrounding their death and birth. The nights following my dad’s death, I woke up at the precise time he took his last breath. I relived the moments of sitting at his bedside, holding his hand. Maybe you have experienced the unsettling memories during the midnight hours. You are not alone; it happens to all of us. Sleepless nights are common for the grieving person. It is normal. I do not know if there is a name for this phenomenon, but I do know that it is unnerving and can be downright terrifying.

Our brains want to process the events. During the day, we do not allow ourselves to think about it. We distract ourselves from the pain. During the night, when all is quiet and the distractions of the day are gone, our subconscious brings the death and the events surrounding it to the consciousness level. While our bodies are still our subconscious is still working and brings to the forefront scenarios to think about.

During the day, when grief needs your attention, take time to acknowledge it. Surrender to it. Be with your grief. If being with your grief requires you to relive the death, I offer a few options to assist in this process. Write about the death experience. Leave nothing out, express the horror, the turmoil, the ugly truth. Feel your emotions during the process. If you do not like to write, ask a friend to listen. Explain that you don’t need advice or any attempts to “make you feel better”; you need to relive your story. I caution you, not every friend will be able to witness your raw vulnerability. Choose wisely. If nothing else, talk to an empty room or a pet. Do this as often as you need to. For me, the more I relived the moments during the day, the easier it was to sleep at night.

Eventually this middle of the night, midnight mayhem fades away and you will once again be sleeping more soundly.


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