StephanieW

Hello again;

Ever since my goodbye in October of last year, my mind forces me into a torturous ritual before bed. No matter how exhausted I may be, I can never drift peacefully off to sleep. Although my pain is more manageable... without exaggeration, I think of my cat Frinks every single night. I think about the happy memories we've shared, I think about what I miss most and on unfortunate occasions I think of him dying all over again in the vet clinic. The worst thing of all is the recollection of me scolding him for things that seem so silly now. I know this isn't uncommon, especially for those who are obsessive thinkers or those who have suffered trauma. There isn't really a more suitable group of people I could ask than you so:

Any advice of how to get to sleep without this hour long process would be very much appreciated. I would prefer no recommendations of medication but instead some mental exercises? Maybe ways one could distract themselves to sleep? Honestly, even someone's personal experiences with something similar would bring me comfort. Thank you so much in advance.

Please stay safe and healthy out there<3

sw
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JulieF
Stephanie,

Well you have come to the right place as we have all experienced sleeping issues with the loss of our babies.  I am sorry for the loss of your sweet Frinks.  Today marks two weeks since I had to put my cat Patch down - he was 19 and had kidney failure.  I knew it was the right decision as he had gotten pretty sick in the final 24 hours before I made the decision, but I still wish, think, I could have done more.  I also scolded him the day before for counter-surfing. so don't feel badly about that.

I bet you gave him much more love than scolding.  Remember all the love you gave to him.

I am also a bit of an obsessive thinker - perfectionist, with depression issues.  I have had sleep issues for years.  I have found that writing down all the wonderful memories has helped me to process a bit.  Have you tried some gentle yoga right before bed, or meditation?  I have also found a good tea called SleepyTime Extra- I think Celestial Seasonings makes it.  It has worked for me in the past - just helps to relax a bit.  The brain thing is tough - especially at night.  It tends to spin out of control and the only way to sleep is to grab hold of those destructive thoughts and make them go away.  The only way I have been able to fall asleep for the last few years (long before Patch passed) is with some sort of sound on - either the tv, or there is some good relaxing sleep music on YouTube - like the sound of the ocean, falling rain, etc.  Just try different things, or a combination.  Reading sometimes helps - something light and enjoyable, which I call "brain candy".  There are also some good breathing exercises.  It will probably not be one thing, but a combination of them.  I still wake up at 3 am every now and then and the first thought is that I failed my Patch.  But I know I didn't - the brain tells me one thing and the heart says something different.

Bless you and I hope you find something that helps.  
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StephanieW
Julie,

Thank you so much for your incredible kindness and understanding. Having you dedicate this degree of thoughtfulness in your response means a great deal to me. Especially with your mentioning of your sweet Patch and his "counter-surfing" haha! You've softened the sting and I'm so glad to  read "I bet you gave him much more love than scolding." because you're right. Thank you. I'm a very sensitive person so the impact of your words determine a great deal for me. In fact, I was going to bed very soon and having your suggestions has diminished my anxiety!

My usual method is just trying to replace my grief indulged thoughts with 'what I'm going to do tomorrow'... which isn't always effective. I think I struggle more now because of the quarantine (like so many others) because there's less productivity. I really like your idea of having sound present as well as "brain-candy" reading. My family has a lot of books so this might work well for me. I also really appreciate the tea suggestion, it will be something I'll add to my grocery list. A hot drink before bed sounds nice <3 I'll really try anything haha!

Thank you again so much Julie. I'm so sorry that we've met the way we have, missing Patch and Frinks is so painful ...but I'm so grateful for you being here. So much love an appreciation sent your way. Please take care of yourself and have a great week!
sw
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JulieF
SW - Let me know how you are doing with sleep.  If I find something else miraculous that works, I will let you know.  I have had some of my friends tell me magnesium works, and there is a product called Calm that is a drink you mix with magnesium.  That did not help, but everyone is different.  

Hope you have a good rest.
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Jan_H
Stephanie,

This may sound silly but sometimes I do a mental "A-Z" game that puts me to sleep. I find it requires enough thought to distract me but not enough to keep me awake. So I'll pick a category and start with A, then move on to B... Categories can be anything and letters can be skipped. Category examples:
  • First names of people I know
  • Last names of people I know
  • Authors
  • Books
  • Songs
  • Bands or Singers
  • Street names
  • Baby names
  • Games or hobbies
  • Etc
Pick something you are familiar with. The game is not supposed to be hard.

Jan
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StephanieW

Hey Jan!

Not silly at all! This is such a simple but useful trick and I absolutely love it! It reminds me of those games someone might play while they're taking a long drive. I think this could be very effective. Thank you so much for taking the time to offer me this suggestion. I really appreciate it's something I can put into practise easily! The "A-Z" lists are many, I'll never run out! 

I'm so grateful. Thank you again Jan for your kindness. <3 Have a great week!

sw
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Sugar_Bear1
I have the same problem. Often when I do fall asleep I have terrorizing nightmares. Honestly, I take drugs. Xanax. It’s also the only thing that stops the weeping.  Sometimes that doesn’t even work. I’ve got a script for anti-depressants but haven’t tried them yet. 
I’m exhausted.  Ot the “healthiest” coping mechanism but profoundly, I don't care.  
So sorry for your loss. 
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rachmichelle47

Dear Stephanie, I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my dog last night and I’m writing this at 3 am, unable to sleep because my head is so full of thoughts and my heart so heavy with grief. I’m a worrying/anxious person as well so I completely understand. 


While I think my grief is too fresh right now for any tactic to work, in the past with sleep troubles two things have worked for me:

-melatonin gummies, as they are a natural sleep aid

-picturing a beautiful, ornate stairwell with stairs numbered 100-1. I start at 100 and visualize/count walking down this stairwell. I usually don’t make it past 85 before drifting off. 

I hope that helps. I have the same guilt about every time I scolded Perry for little things, but I’m trying to remember how very obviously happy he was and I’m sure it was the same for your sweet guy. We just love them so hard. My very warmest thoughts go out to you. 

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StephanieW

Sugar_Bear1 wrote:
I have the same problem. Often when I do fall asleep I have terrorizing nightmares. Honestly, I take drugs. Xanax. It’s also the only thing that stops the weeping.  Sometimes that doesn’t even work. I’ve got a script for anti-depressants but haven’t tried them yet. 
I’m exhausted.  Ot the “healthiest” coping mechanism but profoundly, I don't care.  
So sorry for your loss. 

Thank you for responding Sugar.

I'm so sorry you have to endure the torment of nightmares. It's awful that often times our dreams are the most vivid when they're of painful and tragic subjects. I hope in time that this improves for you. It sounds very disruptive. I realise that our grief forces us into corners where options are limited to relieve ourselves of it's pain, so I don't blame you for relying on drugs and other measures. My heart goes out to you and your suffering. I hope in time, more options are available to you and these nightmares subside. Love and hugs sent friend.

sw
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StephanieW

Dear Stephanie, I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my dog last night and I’m writing this at 3 am, unable to sleep because my head is so full of thoughts and my heart so heavy with grief. I’m a worrying/anxious person as well so I completely understand. 


While I think my grief is too fresh right now for any tactic to work, in the past with sleep troubles two things have worked for me:

-melatonin gummies, as they are a natural sleep aid

-picturing a beautiful, ornate stairwell with stairs numbered 100-1. I start at 100 and visualize/count walking down this stairwell. I usually don’t make it past 85 before drifting off. 

I hope that helps. I have the same guilt about every time I scolded Perry for little things, but I’m trying to remember how very obviously happy he was and I’m sure it was the same for your sweet guy. We just love them so hard. My very warmest thoughts go out to you. 

Rachmichelle,

Thank you so much. Your strength is so admirable, to write to me while you're enduring such a tremendous amount of pain. That's so thoughtful and selfless of you. It's greatly appreciated and valued. Perry was very lucky to have such a kind care-giver. I hope today has been a little easier for you. Like you, my first days/weeks without Frinks, I struggled. There was no sleep for me unless I was completely and utterly exhausted. The worst thing I did while coping with my grief was expecting too much from myself and attempting to continue my normal routines. That included when and how I slept but it gets easier (despite this post's subject). I'm so sorry you're without your Perry...the first three or four days were nearly unbearable for me but I promise it will change. It will still hurt of course, but change. 

Melatonin is a great suggestion. I've taken it in the past to help me sleep and I actually didn't know they sold gummies. I'll look into it, tomorrow is shopping day for me! I also really love the idea of thinking about steps, it's something I can put into immediate practise. Thank you, this was excellent and very helpful ideas.

I send warm thoughts and condolences to you too. Perry was so lucky to be loved by you Rachmichelle. Thankyou again so much.

sw
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codysmum102
I have found that Melatonin an hour before bedtime helps.  It is in the vitamin section at the store.  My dog Cody, who passed in January, used to sleep with me so I found that sleeping with his blanket helps.  Also I listen to this music selection called Rain on a Tin Roof.  It's on Amazon music  There are a lot of other selections similar to that, like ocean waves etc... This helps my mind focus on something other than replaying the last days of my baby's life or the seizures he had due to his brain tumor. Just know that unfortunately sleeplessness is quite common and, at least for me,  it has gotten somewhat better with the passage of time.  The first week I was a wreck and like Sugarbear1 I had to take Xanax yet because I seriously thought I was losing it.
Hope this helps a bit. 
Julie 💔
"Grief only exists where love lived first."
--Franchesca Cox
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StephanieW

codysmum102 wrote:
I have found that Melatonin an hour before bedtime helps.  It is in the vitamin section at the store.  My dog Cody, who passed in January, used to sleep with me so I found that sleeping with his blanket helps.  Also I listen to this music selection called Rain on a Tin Roof.  It's on Amazon music  There are a lot of other selections similar to that, like ocean waves etc... This helps my mind focus on something other than replaying the last days of my baby's life or the seizures he had due to his brain tumor. Just know that unfortunately sleeplessness is quite common and, at least for me,  it has gotten somewhat better with the passage of time.  The first week I was a wreck and like Sugarbear1 I had to take Xanax yet because I seriously thought I was losing it.
Hope this helps a bit. 

Hi Codysmum,

Thank you so much for your kindness. I'm so sorry we have to suffer this pain but I'm grateful that there are people like you in this community willing to help. It's very special to me and I truly appreciate it. Since posting, I've tried soothing sounds like rain and it does have a very reliable calming effect. That was an excellent suggestion! I think melatonin is ideal for me as well because it's been a particularly hard week. You've been so helpful, thank you so much.

I am very sorry you had to say goodbye to Cody. He was so lucky to have had such a caring, thoughtful and loving person be his Mum. Stay strong. My love and a warm hug sent to you <3 

sw
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codysmum102
Stephanie,
Glad the rain sounds are helping and hope the melatonin does too. Grief is a long process for those who loved their babies so very much. Its 15 weeks for me today and although it is not the gut wrenching  sorrow it was in the beginning it is still there lurking in the background waiting for those quiet moments to pop back out. Be kind to yourself and don't expect too much too soon. Keep posting and hang in there.
Julie 💔
"Grief only exists where love lived first."
--Franchesca Cox
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littlea
Hi Stephanie - sorry for what you are going through, my sleeping so far is thankfully ok my eating is not.  But when I've had sleep problems in the past I've found lavender oil just a few drops on my pillow helps.  Maybe the calming smell of it distracts our minds from the tormenting thoughts. Walking can sometimes help if that's possible under these circumstances. 
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squares
Hi, Stephanie.  I am so sorry that you lost your cat.  I just lost mine yesterday, so we are all together in this pain. 

I've suffered from OCD for quite a few years, and I know how hard it is to let something go when you feel fixated on it, especially at night.  If you find yourself thinking of your cat and your mind wants to go to the sad memories, choose instead to think of the good ones.  Think of your favorite times with him or your favorite quirks that he had.  You could even write these out and look at them when you need a reminder.  Try not to let your mind control you in this situation and at least give it some direction.  Guided meditation before bed helps, too.  Maybe you just need more time to grieve, and as others have mentioned, don't be hard on yourself right now.  It's obvious you loved your cat and that's all that matters.     

I have found for myself that listening to something at night helps.  Find a positive podcast, a book on tape, or some quiet music that you find relaxing.  Rain and ocean sounds really help, as you mentioned.  I pray things will start to feel easier soon.
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