Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.
First, allow me to offer my condolences on your son's passing 2 years ago. Your question is why, at 46 years old, you're having cognitive and memory problems? Let me share with you my impressions from what you write.
At first I read about depression and chronic pain. My first thoughts were that it is possible indeed that you may be having a neurological event and need to discuss a referral to a neurologist for testing. Depression and chronic pain, though, can especially together produce these types of symptoms, though, and it is perhaps more common than a neurological problem but still, not that common. But then you write that your son passed away 2 years ago and it came into focus. Yes, grief.
Now, I still need, in order to be thorough, for you to go to your doctor and have neurological problems ruled out, okay? But grief is the more likely answer here.
I would like to introduce to you something called the mind-body connection. The idea of mind-body connection is that the physical symptoms you (and most of us) are feeling are not the disorder; they are symptoms masking the emotional and psychological realities (mind) that each of us is too scared to face. On the surface it sounds strange and almost anti-modern. How can things about me I am not ready to deal with cause pain. This isn't the place to give a full class on mind-body connection, but I can tell you that you will find many resources on the web.
I just did a simple Google search for you on "mind body connection" and the first few items seemed like they were of interest. While they are not scholarly works on the subject, they seemed like they would be good introductions. Here is the web address for the search:
I want to also share with you an example from someone I worked with in psychotherapy:
Her husband died in an auto accident. She never grieved properly for a number of reasons. She at one point fell off a ladder and broke her foot. Her foot just wouldn't heal properly. she wound up with an acupuncturist/massage therapist who told her, "Your foot will never heal until you let yourself grieve for your husband." She was shocked. She came to see me and worked on letting herself grieve. She's fine now. The concept, though, that her foot's healing from the pain of the break was somehow related to her emotional healing from her husband's death was at first impossible for her to fully accept. But she did and it helped. This is just one example.
So this method requires you to allow yourself to see the pain as a manifestation of something more emotional within. This approach is the mind-body connection approach. You can Google it and get acquainted. Depression and chronic pain are prime examples of how grief can manifest in your life.
Because for you, most likely, "your life", is the life before your child died. That is no longer real. For you to be inside that life, to feel totally authentic in that life as you perceive others are is no longer your realm. You have entered a different part of what is called human life. And to be fully who you were before he died would be to deny that your son lived. So, if you don't mind, please allow me to address the grief even though I know it is painful. But everyone who contacts me finds help in actually addressing the grief, okay?
And that is the key to our goal here: to affirm that he LIVED, not only died. You can't be who you were before he died. Because that would be to try to be who you were before he LIVED.
You know, in our society there is the famous work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the 5 Stages of Grief she identified and spent her life helping people learn and understand. And our society has come to accept this as what grief is about. The Stages end with acceptance and people assume that means, "Okay, you're over it now; you're ready to get on with your life."
Three years ago, a woman came to my office for therapy because her daughter had died at 23 years old 5 years before. The anniversary of her death was coming up and her family was giving her a very hard time because they knew that she would be in tears for weeks and inconsolate. She had been raised a very devout Catholic and was ready to leave the church, which for her and her family was a clear sign that it had gone too far. We started therapy. I gave her a book to read that I'll share with you in a minute. We began with two points. That G-d had let her down so much that she could no longer speak to Him. That this is okay, but not to say that she no longer CARED about G-d. To be willing to say how much she wanted to hurt G-d as He had hurt her. It's okay, G-d has lots of time and is patient and will wait until the next point we worked on.
We then talked about people's wanting her to be over it. Yet she would rather abandon them then abandon the feeling of pain about her daughter. Because those feelings of pain kept her daughter alive for her within her. Of course you already see where therapy was heading: that this was not the way to keep her connection with her daughter alive. So what was?
Keeping ALL the feelings about her daughter alive within her: the joyful moments, the regular moments, the years when she was alive as well as the moment she died. To have only the moment she died be how she would stay in her heart was not to give her daughter full love. This of course took a few months to learn, but it is of course the truth.
So let me continue how we then moved on as I talked to her:
I am talking about a different progression, a different 'end' point then what people want which is for you to just get over it, and people are having a hard time with it because they are not used to your way being promoted as good and healthy. So what is this way I am proposing?
I am proposing something that should not be called mourning nor should it be called grief. It should be called living with the spirit of your son infusing your heart. And how would we know if this is actually what is happening or if you are really in one of Kubler-Ross's Stages instead?
The answer is that if you are 'mourning', if you are focusing on the heartache and sadness of being without him, then you are in her Stages. But if you are focusing on the serenity of heart of your love and this infuses you with a sense of positive energy to meet your days and to have a fulfilling life, then you are in your stage that I am proposing, which is that you will never stop having a place in your heart that he occupies that is a "hole" in terms of this world, a hole in your heart that has love, joy, and pain in it all together.
This is very crucial. And it is YOU who has to know and judge if you are truly in this stage and past Kubler-Ross's stages. And when you are, then I urge you to stay strong and persevere in the face of the onslaught of those who cannot fathom such a stage. Smile kindly at them and don't try to educate them: it is like trying to explain to a blind man what the beauty in a flower looks like.
You are not there now and it may take time. Keep my answer and refer to it. And read these books and let them help you on this journey.
Beyond Tears: Living after Losing a Child by Ellen Mitchell. It was written by nine ladies, each telling their stories of losing an adult child. But a child is a child.
Life After the Death of My Son by Dennis Apple. He lost his 18 year old to an illness suddenly. It is heartwrenching and heart healing.
Love Never Dies: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Love by Sandy Goodman. Her 18 year old son was electrocuted. It is a remarkable book.
and finally: The Grieving Garden: Living With the Death of a Child by Suzanne Redfern and Susan Gilbert. This is the story of about 20 parents told so movingly.
Again, I hope that you can sense my caring and my hope for you. I wish you the very best!
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