I’m feeling a bit desperate. I’m working today which i was really looking forward to. Today is a milestone day and I am dreading 10.17 the time of death I heard the paramedics agreeing before they said “who is going to tell her” . My boss in Germany has scheduled my “quarterly review” for 10am videocall. of course I should have already had that meeting but I only started back at work last week… just for gods sake… feeling weepy already.
My suggestion is that you tell your boss that at the start of the meeting. However I have realised that now that it too late.
So I can only say, courage, my sister in grief,
My manager cancelled the performance review and we just had a short audio only chat about what I’ve been working on in the last week instead so thank goodness I didn’t need to look over the last three months with her on this day three months to the day my love died. I got off the phone at 10:15am and the time came. I’ve got stomach ache and heart ache and a bin full of snotty toilet roll (i don’t bother with tissues anymore).
I normally wouldn’t have needed to post on here or hope someone would text or phone me in such a desperate way as I never needed anyone at all except him. Now, no matter how many people I beg to for help/comfort that they can never give or how many actually would care enough to really try and help me it will never be enough… this dark dark chasm can never be filled.
Normally my husband would just be here next to me at his computer also and we would have chatted, he was my beast of burden! He would have hugged me if I was upset. I would have made us coffee. But when I look to the right his chair is empty except for his jacket where he left it, his computer is off and I don’t even drink coffee anymore.
It is so lonely not having your person and knowing never again will I, I talk to him out loud anyway but I know he’s not really there.
I really just so hard wish I could speak to my husband. How is he, is he OK? Did it hurt what I did to him to try and make him come alive again? What did he think of us all trying to save him, did he think we were incompetent (I bet he would have been annoyed about the home automation socket being knocked out of the wall leaving me with all this mess still).
Yesterday my Counsellor and I went through the time period between me calling 999 at 9.03am and the coroner taking away my husband’s body at 14:40 in detail as I remember so many details over and over and I couldn’t remember what he looked like alive anymore. Even though I have photos of us all over the house neither of us look real anymore.
She said that flashbacks will keep happening because the cortisol, adrenaline and other chemicals that would have gone to the maximum to give me the super-strength I needed physically on that day to drag his body around and running up and down the street/stairs trying to get people to him make you take in all details in super clarity and in all senses in much more detail than usual to enable you to fight or flight. Even if you don’t have to perform feats of strength that normally you wouldn’t be capable of I guess everyone has this on the day they found out their loved one died because I was a little girl when my father died of cancer but I remember my mum telling me that even though it was years ago.
This then overloads the brain and takes a long time to sort in the mind the Counsellor said and going through the details by writing/telling someone can help it unpack better. She said now I have a brain like a split teabag (!) and the tea is all unsettled in the cup and will settle down to the bottom again so one day I can drink the tea but it will take some time and will never be the same again.
So here I am three months on with a brain like a split teabag and I should be working but I am on my other computer typing this because I am crying too hard to care about anything else. I will take this as my lunch break but need to go back now. It’s all so hard and useless isn’t it.
Thank you Christie xxxxxxx
Dear @FleurDeLis ,
I just posted in the other post you started… Gosh, I am so sorry you are feeling this way.
I totally understand your anxiety and fear of the quarterly review as your company is going to lay off some people, the stress probably contributed to the flashbacks.
All these questions you posted I’ve asked them all too… Remember you had a little/weird feeling a few days ago? Can you try to recall that feeling to see if it will calm you down a bit? When I feel great pain, I try to picture that nice dream I had.
Sorry I wish i could have done more to help.
Every time I read your posts I wish they could be read by medical professionals such as doctors, paramedics, coroners and counsellors. It might give some of them a better insight into the true horror of the aftermath of sudden death. Not the theory but the raw reality.
I may be doing an injustice to some of those professionals but some of those I encountered following the sudden death of my husband would do well to listen more and talk less. I am convinced that it is only personal experience that can give true understanding. Seeing someone die who isn’t related is stressful enough but when it’s a close relative I believe the stress is elevated to trauma. I don’t think it requires a medical qualification to deduce from your description that such an occurrence is as traumatic as it gets. I remember from your previous posts that you had trouble accessing counselling and even your account of what happened yesterday and all those useless questions makes me despair. So much time is taken with unnecessary details and assessment rather than cutting to the chase. Asking for personal detail unrelated to the grief turns it into a tick box exercise.
I’m not sure what scale is used to measure trauma and who is eligible for help but I do know it takes far too long to put that help in place. I feel there are many of us this forum suffering complicated grief/trauma as a result of how their loved one died. Many of us go round and round in circles and time itself is absolutely of no help in lessening the pain.
There is no doubt in my mind that both my sons and I were traumatised when my husband died suddenly. That trauma was aggravated and has been extended by a total lack of empathy from the word go. No one who could have helped us at the time at the hospital showed any empathy whatsoever. Instead it was an exercise in cold blooded bureaucracy. We did make a complaint which was upheld but the meeting we were eventually allowed after eight months had to take place on zoom whereas I wanted, and still do, a face to face consultation with whoever was responsible for certain decisions being made. Talking to people who could but won’t help is trauma of a different sort but very real nonetheless.
Trying to access counselling was fraught with delay to the point where I gave up. My younger son (28) who saw my husband collapse and witnessed the ensuing panic found a counsellor through his health insurance with work. Our GP surgery said there are counsellors who specialise in trauma but didn’t refer him as they didn’t know much about it and who those specialists were!! He has been given exercises to do along the lines of EMDR which aims to cope with intrusive thoughts and flashbacks. He has had horrible nightmares and fits of sobbing with distress on waking up and finding he couldn’t save his dad. Having listened to him, she has acknowledged what he is dealing with and that has been a start. Not a cure by any means but a start.
When you describe rushing around in a panic trying to save your husband I can feel my heart beat faster because I immediately relate it to my family’s experience.
It’s so hard explaining to others who haven’t experienced anything similar just how chaotic and unpredictable life becomes after such a loss. Ironically our friends think we are all doing well after 14 months. In many ways we are but still go out of our way to avoid triggers such as scenes on TV which send us back to square one.
There are so many details we need to discuss but don’t for fear of disturbing others. Like you, I received my husbands post mortem report through the post and unanswered questions remain. That adds to our distress and its hardly rocket science to understand why.
I know that work will give you a distraction but I think you need to be kinder to yourself. Much kinder. Even though your employer knows that your husband died very recently, they possibly have no idea of just what you have endured. Same as friends who suggest you will meet someone else.
I really hope Fleur that you can find someone who you can talk to in person and really listen to you. Let them read what you have written on this site perhaps. Your ability to communicate your distress is evident in how you write. You now need less assessment and some genuine action.
I’m thinking of you and hoping someone will help. Take care. Xx
You said it so well… Unfair as it may sound, I do not believe any counsellors/therapists can achieve the level of empathy we need unless they have gone through the same kind of trauma we faced. And I think empathy is the biggest part of the emotional support we need, advice may help but doesn’t come close to it…
They can however provide practical therapies. I always wonder how effective EMDR is and i couldn’t find much online information about it.
All these medical dramas on TV indeed don’t help at all, my partner and I used to complain that there were too many cooking programs but I am not complaining now. The triggers are everywhere like dust.
I lost my partner 3 months ago. today been shopping and all I wanted to do was pick up all the things I used to buy for him. In the end I just bought a couple of things and came out as could feel myself getting ready to break down and cry. Haven’t slept through the night for the last three nights my heart is breaking I miss him so much.
thank you @Jobar I was thinking about you and your sons too, I hope you get your face to face meeting but it has already taken so long that it is already unacceptable that they’ve added to all your grief with this.
Like your son, the counsellor I found was through my work private medical insurance scheme. I had given up trying to find one though even through that as out of a list of 8 or so I was given by BUPA it was the second to last one that finally had a space for me and just getting to that point took more effort than I really had in me because each one i contacted didn’t have space and before that I’d had to have a long questionnaire type assessment.
Family and friends were offering daughters of friends who had done a Psychology course and all kinds, (presumably it is quite evident that I am now down to my last few marbles with the rest long lost!!). I couldn’t be bothered anymore myself so I can fully understand giving up.
I can’t remember exactly when I contacted my GP for help but it was after I had been wanting to kill myself every single day for many weeks and had written a suicide note/will, investigated different methods and had a plan (which I still save just in case but have not seriously thought of doing it for around 3 weeks).
I told my GP this reluctantly after two questionnaires he asked me revealed to him I thought about “self harm” every day but I was a bit confused with that term as I didn’t want to harm myself only outright kill myself which is why I struggled to find the right way for weeks as I didn’t want to be one of those “cry for help” suicides, I wanted the job done as quickly and painlessly as possible and with minimal impact on others (eg. i screened out train or truck realising the drivers/others would be traumatised and maybe it would kill others besides me).
I think it has taken at least a month later, maybe nearer two before this Counsellor contacted me and then she is only a trainee (sounded young too and plainly reading from some kind of script). It does make me wonder what happens to people who are not lucky enough to have all the support I have because if I am on my knees with it despite my saintly family, contacting my GP, work counsellor, cats and this forum then how on earth do other people manage.
If I ever make it to being a real adult human again I’d like to think I’d try to help future people in our situation somehow like you suggested in another post because I must admit I’d never realised how awful feeling awful could be before. I had worried about ever losing René but even my worrying didnt prepare me anywhere near for the reality or how suddenly a future can be obliterated completely. Even seeing it with my own eyes I am still in disbelief sometimes.
The counsellor is important because despite that I am quite open generally there are some things I didn’t tell anyone but her because I don’t feel right inflicting those things on anyone but someone paid to listen to me. She lets me talk a lot but then asks me questions that give me ideas I’d not thought of and gives me homework and I think she might be the way forward (if there is one).
I will also Google EDMR as I’m not sure what that is. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and story and for the support.
I really hope you and your sons will get more support soon yourselves and that the therapy now in place helps your son to recover from his flashbacks.
Really wishing the best for you all.
What an amazing post . You sound like such a compassionate and caring soul and very wise observations.
I am also suffering complicated grief and trauma. My mum was 100 in July, Totally with it, lived independently, and we were devoted .
She always called me her little treasure . She felt unwell on the 13 November and I told her I would call the paramedics and she behaved me not to . She was admitted to hospital, with a “urine infection “. Long story short, she spent 15 days in agony, they let me get on with sitting with her , which I did for her, but the trauma and flashbacks will never leave me . Your family do need bereavement counselling. I had to go to my gp as I still am sobbing every day and he recommended me to contact Cruse . They are a national bereavement counselling service, indeed I have known of them for years. It is free .
Don’t know where you live but I feel a connection with you .
So much of what you have written resonates. I also investigated all sorts of ways to end the constant despair I felt day and night. For weeks it was 24 hours as I couldn’t sleep even with the sleeping tablets prescribed. I was offered beta blockers and diazapam by my GP who clearly had no idea how to help me. If I had taken the prescribed dose of all three I would never have been conscious and I partly wonder if that was the motive. I would never have been able to phone the surgery asking for help let alone get there.
As the months passed a sort of resigned numbness took over. Many of us will have found ourselves capable of doing things that we never could have imagined. We still don’t know how but some sort of survival mechanism kicks in in most cases. I feel I have cobbled together an existence rather than a life. From the outside lots of friends and family would say I’m doing better than that but no one can see inside our minds and hearts.
I know what you mean about bereaved people who have no one to support them. If we can feel this level of despair despite having having loving families around us, what on earth is it like for someone totally alone? When it comes to getting answers about why my husband died I still feel completely alone. Currently on the news much is being made of the effect of staff having to phone relatives and deliver the worst possible news. Whilst I don’t dispute it is distressing to deliver the news it is a million times worse to receive it , especially on one’s own with no access whatsoever to any support.
Given that each bereavement is unique there can be no fixed protocol for how news of a loved ones death is conveyed but I do know that some people who are given ‘the job of telling them’ are clearly not suited to doing it and cause more harm than they realise. This was the case pre covid and cannot have improved at the moment. Whoever was in charge on the night my husband died clearly didn’t rate bedside manner as important. It upset me reading you hear the paramedics deciding who was going to tell you that Rene had died.
I do believe that in time, however long that may be, you will be able to help people who have been bereaved in a similar way to you. No one can train to cover all the aspects sudden death incurs. The true horror is only known to those who are affected. Many people can’t voice some of the details but someone who has been there knows instinctively what can add to the distress of someone suddenly bereaved. Your ability to express yourself could make you a great advocate for those who can’t. Very sadly not a quality you ever imagined needing or using.
Thank you for your concern for my sons and me. I really hope that at some point you find some of that elusive peace we all crave. Take care. Xx
I am sorry to hear of the trauma you have suffered following your mother’s death. I joined this forum a few months after the sudden death of my husband in November 2019. He was 64 and we were looking forward to our later years together more than I can say.
Five months earlier my 97 year old father died following a fall in the garden which broke his hip. He was already weakened by ongoing heart failure so when the decision to operate was conveyed to our family we were relieved that he was going to be given every chance of recovery despite his age. We knew it was a risk and so when we received a phone call asking us to go to the hospital we were not expecting good news. As soon as the anaesthetic was administered my father died so ,effectively ,he was put to sleep. Not intentionally of course but that is what happened. I had always hoped he would fall asleep in his chair in the house he had fought so hard to stay in rather than in hospital but a broken hip put paid to that.
The two experiences of death of a family member within the space of five months could not have been more different. In fact they were poles apart. In the case of my father we arrived at the hospital and were greeted by the whole team who had attended him. We were shown to a room and offered a hot drink while the sad news was given to us. For my mum it was devastating as she and my father had been married for 72 years but she was very gracious and just said that she had been lucky to have had such a long and happy marriage and to have been loved so much all her life. She couldn’t blame anyone for what had happened and was just grateful that they had at least tried to save him. Everyone in that room was in tears, including the anaesthetist who was clearly shocked by what had happened. We were then shown to a side ward where my father had been taken and the nurses also were in tears mainly for my mum. Whilst it was devastating to lose him, we at least had the feeling that he hadn’t been written off for being old and was shown every respect. Great care had been taken in preparing him for us to see and that was also reassuring.
Unfortunately when my husband died there couldn’t have been less humanity shown if they had tried. This was in a totally different health authority but that should have made no difference whatsoever. The A&E department (not our local hospital) where he was taken following his collapse late one November evening was a disaster in every sense. Our younger son had been out with him when he collapsed but no one listened to his version of events. In fact he was left wandering the corridor until my elder son arrived and found him, alone and distraught. My husband’s cause of death was determined without any reference to his health records or listening to our son who had witnessed what had happened. I was informed there and then that no post mortem would be required as they were sure it was a heart attack. They knew nothing about him apart from his age so that was their default diagnosis. We were shown to a room where my husband had quite literally been dumped on a trolley with all the evidence of failed resuscitation. No attempt had been made to prepare him for us to view and the lack of respect shown to him was heartbreaking. Seeing my husband ,and my sons their father, treated so indifferently compounded our distress. Losing a loved one suddenly is shocking in so many ways but for it to be dealt with in such an off hand manner defies belief. My husband and I had been together thirty seven years and he was written off in an instant, no questions asked. We were simply left with him in some horrible side room and told to go whenever we wanted. In order to get home we needed his car keys which had been in his trouser pocket (I had arrived by taxi) but were informed that they had been locked away and we couldn’t retrieve them until the following morning. Six hours later!! They had already handed us his clothes bundled into two plastic bags. When I threatened to scream the place down if they didn’t get the damned car keys they miraculously appeared and we made our journey home, 30 miles away. We arrived at 4.00 a.m dazed and traumatised unable to process what had happened.
Ironically at 97 my father had to have a post-mortem as he had died following a fall and within 24 hours of being admitted to hospital. It wasn’t up for discussion but mandatory . In my husbands case, despite dying mid conversation and not having seen a doctor for ten months no post mortem was deemed necessary and a death certificate was issued. However instinct made us persist and we secured a hospital (as opposed to a coroners) post mortem which proved that my husband hadn’t died from a heart attack. His heart was enlarged but it also showed that he had a congenital malformation of one of his heart valves which had been contributing to this and had never been diagnosed. The post mortem categorically states no evidence of myocardial infarction although this appears on his death certificate as primary cause of death. In order to get it changed we have to go through a lengthy procedure. With no help and at our own cost. The awful thing is that the valve malformation can be hereditary and so both our sons have been recommended for screening. Without the post mortem we would never have known. For statistical purposes this finding has been missed as it currently does not appear on my husbands death certificate and so it’s prevalence is under reported. The importance for everyone is that death certificates are used when planning screening programmes.
Since then my younger son has been screened and has thankfully not inherited the valve condition. His GP has nevertheless recommended that he continues with screening for the rest of his life. My elder son is still waiting a year on from receiving the recommendation. Several appointments have been cancelled during lockdown and even the private route is proving less than straightforward.
For me it hasn’t just been the utter poleaxing shock which accompanies any sudden death but the seeming indifference to someone so loved. To witness someone who has been the centre of your world regarded as not worthy of respect and recorded as just another statistic (albeit incorrect!) damaged my mind on top of my broken heart. I don’t need someone to diagnose me as having complicated grief as I know it is a consequence of so many opportunities that were missed to help my sons and me. Noone who could have helped us wanted to help us try and understand and certainly no one wanted to admit mistakes had potentially been made both before and after my husbands death. All this happened pre covid before the NHS was ‘overwhelmed’.
The reason for this very long post (apologies!) is that I am trying to say that I understand why you are grieving so badly for your mother. Age should never be an excuse for indifference or lack of care. I have seen that that need not happen. Had she and you been treated more compassionately you would of course still be grieving but that grief would not be complicated by anger and regrets. Unfortunately the care we and our loved ones receive is too often down to luck. I don’t believe it’s down to resources but more frequently attitudes. Someone with a caring nature will care no matter what. Of course hospital staff are under intense pressure at the moment but there are still those who do their best for patients and relatives. On the other hand there are those for whom caring should never have been a career choice, both at primary care and hospital level.
There are so many people on this forum who are not just grieving the loss of a loved one, whatever the relationship, but are also addressing complications surrounding the death. Without compassion the sadness becomes trauma. No training needed to work that out. Hopefully you will one day be able to celebrate your mother’s long life and not have so many happy memories tarnished by her last two weeks of life. Take care. X
What a kind and compassionate message.
You are spot on with your comments. They let my mum suffer so badly and left me to watch her die in agony. Thank goodness that I demanded to be allowed to stay with her for the majority of the time.
It was horrendous, she was an ex nurse herself and so independent with all her mental faculties.Sepsis just took over and I don’t think they had a clue what it was and was ravaging her insides. No post mortem was offered and I received a call from the hospital to say it was a rare bacterial infection that had attacked the lining of her body I could tell you so many other things that I saw and basically they couldn’t give a fig because of her age . I am now suffering from PSTD and panic attacks . They are not playing with a monkey here and I have put in an official complaint to the hospital and asked for her notes but they are saying it will take longer because of coronavirus.
I hope you and your sons are bearing up after the trauma of your loss. How do we ever get over the trauma ?