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What is this Gnawing Feeling I Have in My Stomach?
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Sep 28, 2010
Following the loss of a child, there is a feeling that most parents get that they canít seem to explain other than itís a ďgnawing feeling.Ē Itís not an outright ache, nor is it a sharp pain. Itís just a ďfeelingĒ that is there anytime of the day or night when you are awake. It feels empty and hollow and food doesnít seem to fill it or lessen the feeling. Quite often, after multiple visits to the doctor, there is a shrug of the shoulders and you hear the words, ďI just donít know what this could be. Letís wait it out and see. All of the tests are coming back negative.Ē

Since Iíve personally experienced that ďgnawing feelingĒ, I can tell you that itís an awful type of nagging reminder that something isnít right. Itís that feeling that hits you anytime of the day or night to serve as a way of letting you know that something is missing. Following the death of each of my baby losses the feeling was horrible. It was an empty ache. It was a feeling of nothingness. Sometimes I would awaken in the middle of the night and be so happy. That gnawing feeling wasnít there until I got fully awake. But, as soon as got awake and I remembered that my baby was no longer here with me and that awful gnawing feeling returned.

The same was true following the death of my 13-year-old sister. I was always a teen who loved food of any kind. I was blessed with a high metabolism and could eat anything at any time of the day or night and never gain an ounce, and that made me enjoy food all the more! But, following the death of my sister, not only did food lose its taste, but there was a sick feeling that lingered with me all day and all night for months on end. I ate to fill my stomach and give me nourishment, but the pleasure of eating was gone because there was never a feeling of being satisfied. And, there was always that gnawing ache in my stomach. I hated that so much!

If you have lost a child you know what that ache feels like. If youíre grieving any kind of loss right now you probably have ďthat feelingĒ as we speak. Itís emptiness. Itís an ache. Itís a hollow feeling. And, it continues to remind you over and over and over again that life has changed. Something is missing in your life that you need, and that something is your child. The one you loved with all of your heart. Our bodies have such a unique way of letting us know when something is wrong!

How long does it take for this gnawing feeling to go away? I donít have a timeline to give you for that, nor does any doctor, therapist, or pastor. I can tell you that it takes time, and that gnawing feeling, as Iíve come to name it, will crop up at some of the most unexpected times just to remind you again that your life has been drastically changed.

The good news is that this feeling does begin to lessen with time. And, the more real the death is, the more we understand grief and how it works, the less of the gnawing ache we have in our stomach. It took me over two years for the ache to finally go away each time my heart went through a major loss. Little by little the days were spread further apart until finally, I had trouble remembering what that gnawing feeling was like. And, then I knew. I finally knew that joy was beginning to filter back into my life again.

Be kind to yourself. Be aware of this gnawing feeling and give it time. Grief is a journey and it touches every area of our lives Ė even our tummies! ĖClara Hinton
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