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  • Writer's pictureSharon Koay

19 weeks into my grief journey

People often talk about the five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance - and how a person in grief would move from one stage to another. My grief journey has not been this way at all.


When I thought it best to stop sharing my feelings online as I did not want to offend or affect anyone negatively with my dark feelings of grief (I decided this after receiving a request from someone to stop sharing), I surprisingly received many messages and words of encouragement from others to continue, assuring me that it is ok to not be ok.


It is exactly 19 weeks today since I lost Joshua; 19 weeks of this nightmare I can't wake up from. In this 19 weeks without Joshua, I have felt emptiness so consuming and painful, and pain so overwhelming and unbearable.


I have had anxiety attacks where I feel my heart and chest gripped in a vice-like manner, and not being able to physically breathe. These have now been controlled after I was diagnosed with having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and started medication. I do still have anxiety attacks, but they are less frequent and I now know how to focus on regulating my breathing, as taught by my psychiatrist and psychologist, until the attack passes.


I have cried so many tears and have sobbed countless times to sleep. I have felt pain, not just in my heart, but throughout my whole body, mind and soul.


I have also had periods of numbness, void of emotion, and thick brain fog, where I can't think or function. There are times when I just can't get out of bed, paralysed with deep sorrow and sadness.


I stopped grief therapy after 3 sessions, as I find myself unable to share my feelings in spoken words. I can only share them in written form, and I do so with my online support group and here, on my blog.


I have been in isolation since Joshua's death, grieving in solitude, as to this day, I still have no words to share with family and friends, nor are there any words I'd like to hear.


I do still continue to see a psychiatrist regularly. I first saw him 3 weeks after Joshua's death, and have been on medication since. I did not want to be on medication initially, but looking back, I'm glad I did.


I had spent the first 3 weeks after losing Joshua plagued with nightmares and flashbacks of the night of his death, having to relive what I saw and how I felt over and over again, setting off frequent and relentless anxiety attacks. I spent most of the time in Joshua's bedroom, amongst his things, in uncontrollable gut-wrenching pain and tears.


When I first started medication, I was in a drug-infused state of sleep and haze, sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day. The pain was still there, but the anxiety attacks had lessen. After the dosage of my medication was adjusted, my sleeping pattern began to return to some form of normalcy. This week, my medication has been changed as I have gone through the period of not wanting to eat to binge-eating recently. Admittedly, I had also turned to alcohol twice in the last 3 weeks to drown the pain and anguish that I have yet to learn to live with. I am not sure what to expect with the switch in medication, but the last 2 days have been tough as my body adjusts.


My younger son, Caleb, has been grieving differently, but that's not my story to tell. He turns 18 next week, and we are leaving Penang. Life without Joshua is so hard, and being in Penang without him is so much harder. Leaving Penang doesn't mean we are leaving Joshua or his memories. It is just leaving our day-to-day lives where Joshua's absence is too great to bear. We've booked a flight to Istanbul, and a 1-night stay at a hostel. From there, we'll just take each day as it comes, and move through different countries across Eastern Europe for 7 weeks. I have created a YouTube channel in memory of Joshua and will be updating our whereabouts here. Follow us by subscribing to the channel: https://www.youtube.com/@JoshuaFE19 


(Photo taken in Bangkok on Joshua's 18th birthday)


Caleb and I do talk about Joshua openly. About what Joshua would have said or done in different situations. About his silly antics and eccentricities. About how much he means to us. We will continue to talk about him throughout our travels.


Always loved, never forgotten, forever missed.

Joshua Tan Peng Boon

January 1, 2005 - January 25, 2024



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